Feminists Group Demands End To Forced Abortions In North East
Nigerian feminists group has urged the federal government and the Nigerian military to stop the alleged forced abortions and killing of children by security forces in the North East, Nigeria.
Leaders of the group, Chioma Agwuegbo, Fadekemi Akinfaderin, Dr Leena Koni Hoffmann, Ifeoma Ikwueme, Nana Nwachukwu, Lola Okolosie, Omolara Oriye and Buky Williams, who made this demand in a statement, earlier in Abuja, also urged the government to decriminalise abortion so that women can choose whether or not to keep continue pregnancies.
The group believed that decriminalization of abortion will expand the grounds for termination of pregnancy to include cases of rape and incest.
They also canvassed strengthening the implementation of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act.
They demanded a set-out plan for implementation of the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission, including accountability, and making the plan public.
Recall that on December 7, 2022, Reuters reported that the Nigerian military ran a systematic mass abortion programme in northeast Nigeria.
Reuters subsequently reported that military personnel had smothered, poisoned and shot children, including babies and toddlers, because they were assumed to be collaborating with armed groups or had inherited the ‘tainted’ blood of their insurgent fathers.
The statement reads: “This Friday marks six weeks since Major General Irabor called on the National Human Rights Commission to launch an investigation into these reports of forced abortions.
“We, Nigerian feminists, call on the National Human Rights Commission to make public their plans to take this investigation forward, expand its remit to look at the killings of children, and commit to doing so in a victim-centred way.
“Ensures there are no reprisals against survivors and witnesses of these human rights violations against women and children for speaking out and respects their continued anonymity.
“Work with existing service providers who support women associated with Boko Haram to extend comprehensive services to those subjected to forced abortions.
“Recommend measures that ensure accountability for those who ordered these human rights violations against women and children, those responsible for perpetrating them, and their commanders who knew what was happening but did nothing.”
Adding: “Adopt a civilian-centric approach to end all human rights violations and ensures accountability for perpetrators, track and mitigate civilian harm during operations and engage meaningfully with civilians – including with women, youth, people with disabilities and others normally socially excluded in security decision making.
“Many of the women involved had been kidnapped and raped by fighters and, just when they thought they reached safety, were given abortions without their consent. Those who resisted were beaten, held at gunpoint, or drugged into compliance by soldiers.
“This programme was carried out for years and across multiple administrations and shifts in military leadership.
“These acts are rooted in a patriarchal ideology that places women’s bodies under the control of men and views children’s inevitable destiny to become like their fathers.
“Perpetration of violence is not a genetic inheritance. We affirm the human rights of children as provided for in Nigeria’s Child Rights Act, including the rights of children associated with armed groups under international law. They are victims and should be provided care, support, and love to recover from trauma and build their futures.
“We also assert women’s right to bodily autonomy and to choose whether or not to have an abortion. These forced abortions display complete disregard for women’s health and well-being.
“In their denial of choice, they are a mirror to criminalisation and lack of access to safe abortion across the nation.”