Two young girls who managed to escape from an Internally Displaced Camp in Borno State, have narrated how soldiers, health workers and other officials in the camp turned them into sex slaves.
The girls, Talatu Istifanus and Yossi Adam, who are 17 and 19 respectively, gave graphic details of how the soldiers made sure they slept with them for any favour they could get.
The two girls who are from Yobe State, but had to be taken to the IDP camp when Boko Haram members sacked their communities early this year.
They spoke to the youth president of their community after they managed to escape.
First to speak was Talatu:
“I am happy that I managed to escape from the IDP camp in Maiduguri because the soldiers there turned us into sex slaves. They raped us almost every day before they would give us anything.
In truth, it was not only the soldiers that raped us. Even health workers, policemen, and other camp workers took advantage of us and raped us.
If you needed garri or sugar to drink, they will tell you that you have to sleep with them before they would give you these things.
Many of us got pregnant and they would give us drugs to abort the babies. Even elderly women with children were not left out in the sexual abuse because they had to feed their babies.
Some would willingly sleep with the soldiers while others were forced to sleep with them because of what they stood to gain.
There was a time some government officials came to the camp to find out if were being molested.
But the camp officials vowed to deal with anyone who spoke the truth. We were scared of them and had to say that were not being raped.
But the truth is that the soldiers, especially, used to rape us. If I am called upon to testify, I will say the truth this time.”
Yossi also corroborated Talatu’s story, adding that the younger the girl, the more vulnerable she was to the sexual abuse.
“It is true that the soldiers used to rape us. They have been denying that nothing of the sort happened but I was a victim and I know other girls and even women who were victims too.
The first time I was raped, I had gone to the quarter guard to ask for some food items to prepare food for our team as I was one of the people mandated to cook that week.
I met two soldiers and told them my mission but one of them told me that for me to get the things I needed, I had to pay.
I did not understand why I had to pay as I did not have any money. Our camp officials had told us that anytime we needed something, we should go to the quarter guard to get them, so I did not know why I should pay.
I told them so and they just laughed at me. One of them said:
‘Look at this girl o. So you don’t know what other girls do to get food stuff? You have to pay in kind and we will give you more than enough.’
I still did not understand them. The other one then opened up that they would have to sleep with me before they gave me what I wanted.
I was still a virgin then and did not want to lose my pride that way and made to go out but they grabbed me.
They dragged me into the makeshift room and with a gun pointing to my head, the two of them took turns to rape me.
The funny thing was that when I told a woman in our group, she just laughed at me and asked if I was the only girl who was raped.
The woman said that almost all the girls and women in the camp went through the same ordeal and that I should not see my own as something special.
That was how it all started as the soldiers, camp officials, policemen, health workers and even the men in the camp used to rape us.
I was not the only one as almost all the girls went through the same thing, though many of them would not want to come out to say this because they are afraid and the shame they would face.
But me, I am not afraid of them. If I am called to say it, I will say it as it was.”