As we come together to celebrate International Women’s Day, we are reminded there are still many areas of the world where women and children face violence and insecurity. In Nigeria, sexual abuse and violence perpetrated against women and children remains prevalent in communities throughout the country. The Fund For Peace’s (FFP) Violence Affecting Women and Girls (VAWG) initiative, implemented in partnership with the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP), aims to break the culture of silence around gender-based violence. Through improving incident reporting and combining local knowledge with cutting edge technology to better understand patterns and trends in VAWG throughout Nigeria, the program aims to foster early response and preventative action. We work closely with civil society organizations on the ground in the North, North Central, Middle Belt, and Niger Delta regions of Nigeria to track the main threats to women and children in five key states. The following reports summarize these findings and propose practical steps that could be taken to help end the abuse and ensure the safety and security of women and children throughout the country.
Women and girls are often the targets — either directly or caught in the crossfire — of this inter-communal conflict. They also bear the brunt of economic pressures through displacement, livelihood and property destruction, or loss of household breadwinners as a result of the violence. In their daily lives women and girls also encounter frequent interpersonal abuse and sexual violence, which is prevalent in family, community and school settings – but remains under-reported. This brief will explore the key themes in Violence Affecting Women and Girls (VAWG) in Kaduna state, drawing from quantitative data from the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) Observa-tory platform, as well as information gathered during a July 2016 workshop convened by NSRP, Education as a Vaccine (EVA) and the Kaduna Observatory Steering Committee (OBSTEC).
Rivers State has experienced higher levels of violence and conflict-related fatalities in the past six months than at any time since the end of the militant insurgency in 2009. This rise in violence – predominately due to the new wave of militancy, political violence, criminality and cult violence – has been well documented in the media and international spheres. What is not getting reported are the impacts this is having on women and girls. Incidents of sexual assault, targeted criminality against vulnerable groups including girls and pregnant women), and domestic abuse are all major contributors to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in the state. May 2016 had one of the highest numbers of VAWG-related incidents reported from the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) Rivers State Observatory since its inception.
In the early morning hours of February 9, 2016, in a sprawling camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno State, three young girls thought to be looking for shelter, were welcomed inside. What the guards who admitted them didn’t know, however, was that each was wearing an improvised explosive device strapped to her body. Minutes later, two of those girls were dead and, with them, an estimated 58 other victims, including many families seeking shelter from a raging insurgency that had driven them from their homes. An additional 80 people were badly wounded. Attacks like this have come to characterize the insurgency that has raged in northern Nigeria since 2009. Recently, however, data and research by The Fund for Peace (FFP), a Washington, D.C.-based NGO, indicates that Boko Haram has fundamentally shifted its tactics and its targets.
The use of women and children as weapons of war in northern Nigeria and in neighboring countries is undoubtedly horrific, there is often the tendency to paint the phenomenon with a broad brush that identifies the bombers as victims without agency, or the right of choice, in their fate. To the extent that this assumption has implications for response, it should be acknowledged that the question of agency is inevitably much more complex and uncomfortable. Certainly, no ten-year-old child can be said to be of a mental and emotional maturity to make such a fatal choice. However, the assumption that the women and children who have carried out these attacks are all abductees is false.
Published January 27, 2016 | By Sarah Silverman
The continuous contemporary news cycle alerts us daily to the mass violence and destruction carried out by radical and extreme violent insurgent groups, and the far reaching flow on effects. Groups such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) in the Middle East, Boko Haram in West Africa, and al-Shabab in East Africa, and al-Qaeda in both continents, have resounding impacts, both regionally and internationally. The violence perpetrated by these groups is spilling across borders in Africa and the Middle East, causing a migration crisis not seen in scale since the end of World War Two. With the world’s attention focused on border controls and refugee quotas, what has gleaned less focus is the response to returning defectors and the deradicalization process.
Published March 28, 2015 | By Ania Skinner
Jamāʻat Ahl as-Sunnahlid-daʻwa wal-Jihād (JAS), known widely as Boko Haram, has employed suicide bombers as a terrorist tactic in their insurgency against the Nigerian government since 2011. As of mid-2014, however, reports began to emerge of an alarming new dimension: the use of young women and girls in suicide missions. The first reported case of a female suicide bomber occurred on June 8, 2014, when a woman detonated her bomb near army barracks in Gombe state of Nigeria. Since that time, the rate of suicide bombings carried out by women has steadily increased.
Published September 23, 2013 | By Patricia Taft
The tragedy of the rampage at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya hit close to home for many of us at the Fund for Peace. Like countless others working the fields of international development, defense and business in Africa, most of us have had the occasion to spend time in Nairobi over the years. Nairobi has long served as a hub in East Africa and Kenya has been one of the continental leaders in Africa on everything from providing peacekeepers to the world’s most dangerous places to combating terrorism at home and further afield. It is in these last efforts, Kenya’s participation in the war on terrorism, which may have brought the tragedy home to Nairobi this weekend. It is also yet another example that underscores the dangers to innocent civilians emanating from neighboring weak and failed states and the half-measures employed to deal with them.
Not every explosion in northern Nigeria stems from the radicalism of Boko Haram. Nor is every outbreak of violence in the Niger Delta the result of militants fighting over oil revenues. Rather, violence in its different forms is an expression of a broader and deeper fabric of social, economic, political, and security challenges. Given the wrong set of underlying conditions, collective violence can spark seemingly out of nowhere, whether or not there is a formal paramilitary group active in the region. Even when such organizations do not exist, in an area with past and current episodes of insecurity, latent structures may still be there, to be crystallized at a moments notice--in the event of a political contest, land dispute, turf warfare, or chieftaincy tussle. Violence can sometimes be self-organizing. Just add water.
Published April 11, 2012 | By Felipe Umaña
Along with its increasing economic and environmental value, the Tri-border region has also risen in relevance after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as an area attractive to global terrorist organizations. The region is largely ungoverned due to weak, inadequate, or ignored laws. A myriad of shadowy black markets, pirated CDs, stolen cars, falsified documentation, and trafficked humans – among other commoditized “goods” – all pass through this region either completely undetected or with tacit acceptance from the local governments. Money laundering and tax evasion also form part of the colorful gamut of illegality that runs rampant in what a reporter has termed as “a terrorist’s paradise.” High rates of violence and petty crime also plague the region, and exist in tandem with poor money laundering controls and low government preparedness. All of these activities occur under the purview of corrupt officials, whose expanse throughout the governmental establishment lends continued permanence to the activities in the region.