By Ibrahim Mohammed
The principal investigator, Centre of Excellence on Development Communication, Rasheeda Liman, has described Borno Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps as hotspots for crimes against girls and women, who depend on people for food to survive.
She said the girls and women are, most times, sexually exploited and harassed in return for food and aid materials.
Ms Liman made this statement during a one-day Girls’ Summit, themed: “See the Need, Meet the Need” organised by the Women Connect Initiative (WCI) in Zaria, Kaduna State, to commemorate the International Day of the Girl-Child.
“Violence against them, especially rape, adds to the need for urgent intervention. Girls as young as nine years old are also subjected to forced prostitution within these camps,” said Ms Liman, who is also the Head of Department, Theatre and Performing Arts, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“Borno IDPs are hotspots for crimes against girls and women who depend on charity for survival,” she said.
Ms Liman said psychological trauma from loss of families, friends and properties, displaced girls and women are faced with security challenges.
She said the inadequacy of security at the IDP camps open them to attacks from rapists, armed robbers, security personnel and hooligans.
“The issue of security and protection of, particularly women and children within these camps should be a question of utmost priority for both government and non-governmental organizations.
“This should be done in conjunction with independent security experts, both national and international,” she said.
In her remarks, Murjanatu Suleiman-Shika, convener of the Girls’ Summit and director, Women Connect Initiative, stated that the rights of girls and women in Northern Nigeria has not been given the attention it deserves.
This, according to her, was due to opportunities unavailable to the girl-child, compared to their male counterpart.
She said the space available to the girl-child in Northern Nigeria is still very limited because Girls do not have the same opportunities as males.
“Girls from Northern Nigeria do not have the early exposure that male children have. The early exposure male children have helped them to explore a lot of things which later help them in life.
“The girls here are secondary school girls from rural and urban communities and we have skills acquisition programmes which we run for them at no cost.
“This programme is put in place to facilitate girls on the need to acquiring skills early in life that will make self-sufficient and financially independent whilst contributing to enterprise development,” she said.
On her part, Binta Abdulkarim, director, Gender Policy Unit, A.B.U Zaria stated that the problems faced by the girl-child can be solved by putting good policies in place.
“Giving out hand-outs is not enough to address issues girls and women faced. There are policies but they are not working, due to certain practices. But we believe that this can be changed by responsible government and people,” she said.