Excerpt of Foreign Policy op-ed co-authored by GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.
Last December, reports of a shocking program of forced abortions emerged in Nigeria. The Nigerian military, a Reuters investigation found, has allegedly forcibly terminated the pregnancies of at least 10,000 women and girls who were rescued or returned from Boko Haram-controlled territories in the country’s northeast. A follow-up report found that the army has also massacred children. Both patterns of abuse, Reuters reported, are part of the military’s systematic campaign amid the Boko Haram conflict to end the armed group’s supposed “bloodline.”
Nigerian authorities have rejected these allegations outright, but this is not the first report detailing alleged abuses by the Nigerian military in the Boko Haram conflict. Nor is it the first report to find patterns of violence, including possible crimes against humanity, in which the military has specifically targeted women and girls. For too long, this issue has been ignored by Nigeria’s allies and the United Nations. Now, the international community must act.
Over the past decade, the Nigerian military’s abuses have been well documented. For example, in 2015, Amnesty International issued a report concluding that the military had extrajudicially executed more than 1,200 people, arbitrarily detained at least 20,000 people (leading to at least 7,000 deaths in custody), and committed countless acts of torture in the Boko Haram conflict. These numbers have continued to grow.