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Welfare of ‘rescued’ women and girls is paramount – Amnesty

The ‘rescue’ of almost 300 women and girls by Nigeria’s military from Boko Haram is an encouraging development but only a small step in securing the safety of the thousands of women and girls abducted by the armed group since 2014, said Amnesty International today.

The organization is also calling on the authorities to ensure that the trauma of those ‘rescued’ is not exacerbated by lengthy security screening in detention.

“This development is just cause for celebration and undoubtedly an immense relief to the women, girls and their families. But this is just the tip of the iceberg; there are thousands more women and girls, and men and boys who have been abducted by Boko Haram,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director, Research and Advocacy.

The military said they ‘rescued’ the women in an offensive against the armed group in the Sambisa forest area in the north-east.

According to a recent Amnesty International report, more than 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram. Drawing from interviews with those who escaped, the report reveals how civilians were executed, tortured, raped and forced into marriage in camps and towns controlled by Boko Haram.

In previous cases where women and girls have escaped from Boko Haram they have been detained for weeks on end for security screening. Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to ensure that their physical and psychological well-being is paramount.

“The trauma suffered by the women and girls is truly horrific. Some have been repeatedly raped, sold into sexual slavery or indoctrinated and even forced to fight for Boko Haram,” said Netsanet Belay.

“What they need now is medical and psychological care and support and privacy. The government must now ensure that it doesn’t add to their suffering with lengthy detention and security screening which can only add to their suffering and plight,” said Netsanet Belay.

Survivors of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, of all ages and genders, have the right to receive full reparation. Amnesty International is calling for :

1. The Nigerian government to provide urgently-needed medical and psycho-social services to all those who have lived under Boko Haram control, including the full range of sexual and reproductive health information and services.

2. The Nigerian government to ensure that the privacy of those who were ‘rescued’ or escaped is respected and take other measures to ensure that they are able to reintegrate to family and community life.

3. Boko Haram to end the abduction of civilians and immediately release all those detained under armed guard.

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