Women in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps in North-Eastern Nigeria, have resulted to offering sex in exchange for food and money.
Amina Ali Pulka, a refugee at the camp, explains to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, how difficult it is for women to survive in camps without support. She said she like many other women, now offer their bodies in exchange for food and other items. She decided to befriend a young man who worked in the kitchen, in exchange for extra food to give to her children.
“I did it because I had nobody to feed me or clothe me,” Pulka said, noting that the man, who like her, had been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency, also gave her money which she used to buy soap and other items.
Aid distribution at Bakassi camp in the city of Maiduguri, has been particularly slow, forcing many women into prostition. Pulka’s case however, is one of many women in internally IDP camps in northeast Nigeria who are selling sex in exchange for food, soap, and money, said medical charity International Medical Corps (IMC) and Nigerian research group NOI Polls.
Aid agencies including the UN Food Aid Agency and UNICEF, has warned of that 75,000 may die of starvation if aids does not get to the camps soonest.
“At times, the food is not enough so the women resort to giving themselves for food and money,” said Hassana Pindar of the IMC, which runs support centres for women in the camps.
According to survey carried out last week by NOI Polls, almost 90 percent of people displaced by activities of Boko Haram in the northeast do not have enough to eat, which found that many women are trading sex for food and the freedom to move in and out of IDP camps.
The pollsters said that sexual abuse was a concern, and that the displaced accused camp officials of perpetrating it in two thirds of cases.
It will be recalled that protests were staged last month by displaced persons in Maiduguri, accusing state officials of stealing food rations, forcing President Muhammadu Buhari to order the police to arrest and prosecute whoever is involved in theft of aids and supply in camps.
IMC volunteer Fatima Alhaji, added that many teenage girls in Bakassi Camps, desperate to provide for their children, are sleeping with men in exchange for food
“Some go out to beg on the streets, others go out of the camp to look for menial jobs, while others use their bodies to get food and money,” she said. “Everybody is talking about it.”
Five months pregnant, Pulka has been abandoned by the kitchen worker, while she has not seen her husband, who lives in the capital of Abuja with another of his wives, for three years.
The 30-year old said her husband, who has not visited the camp or sent any money, refused to come and take the children under his care.
Her oldest daughter, 15, is distraught about her pregnancy.
“She asks me why I am pregnant when their father has been away for three years … other people in the camp also ask me questions,” Pulka said. “I did it because of my children.”