Nigeria’s police force has deployed 100 female officers to camps for internally displaced people across the northeastern Borno state after Human Rights Watch reported camp officials sexually abused some residents.
Damian Chukwu, Borno’s commissioner of police, said 100 policewomen will now handle daily interactions with displaced people in the camps, while male officers will only deal with territorial coverage and patrol. A separate committee will handle the camp’s security, Chukwu said.
Human Rights Watch in its report last month documented rape and abuse cases of 43 women and girls in camps across the state. Some of the women said government and security officials falsely promised them financial assistance and marriage in exchange for sexual favors. Chukwu said the different police units stationed across the camps did not receive any reports of abuse prior to the report, but many of the women and girls said they feared retaliation should they speak up about their attacks.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari described the report as shocking and instructed the police general and Borno state governor to commence an investigation into the allegations.
“Their findings will determine the next course of action for the government and define an appropriate response,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu had said in a statement.
Chukwu said the female officials’ presence in the camps also would aid the investigation into the allegations by Human Rights Watch.
“The deployment of women is also to dig out the true happenings in the camps regarding the allegations,” he said. “We feel that the victims might not want to talk freely to men, but they will be encouraged to open up to women [police] if the allegation is true.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Onize Ohikere writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)