Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 7, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).
According to a report published by Reuters today, a massive forced abortion program has been carried out by the Nigerian military on at least 10,000 women since 2013. In addition to exposing the Nigerian government’s forced abortion campaign, Reuters’ findings further evidence the use of rape as a weapon of war carried out by Islamist insurgents on Nigerian civilians.
As detailed in Reuters’ extensive article, 7 Division, the Nigerian military force in charge of countering the insurgents, has been forcing chemical and surgical abortions on tens of thousands of women who have been raped by Islamist insurgents such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State-West Africa Province (ISWAP), a self-proclaimed regional “caliphate” of ISIS.
Soldiers involved in the military’s forced abortion program stated to Reuters that the reason for the program was that the unborn children are believed to be “predestined” to be insurgents like their fathers, necessitating that the government “destroy (these) insurgent fighters before they could be born.”
Reuters verified that the Nigerian military has beaten and coerced women, some as young as 12, into abortions in the most unsanitary conditions.
Bintu Ibrahim, a woman who underwent one such forced abortion, told Reuters: “If they had left me with the baby, I would have wanted it.”
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), an organization that monitors religious persecution globally, released a report in November noting a “sharp increase in genocidal violence from militant non-state actors, including jihadists,” in Africa. According to ACN, the situation is particularly dire in Nigeria, which “teeters on the brink of becoming a failed state” due to rising jihadism.
ACN’s November report stated that in Nigeria the “number of attacks and killings has sharply risen, with more than 7,600 Christians killed” between 2020 and 2022. Though previous reports detailed Islamic extremists’ use of rape as a terror tactic, Reuters’ article sheds light on the massive scale of the jihadists’ rape campaign. Now, with Reuters’ findings, there is concrete evidence that Nigeria’s radical Islamic insurgents have been perpetuating a systematic campaign of torture and rape on women, with at the very least more than 10,000 victims since 2013.
One woman, identified by Reuters as Fati, was kidnapped, regularly beaten and raped, and forcibly married off to three successive Islamist extremists. According to victims’ and Nigerian soldiers’ testimonies obtained by Reuters, Fati’s horrific experience is the norm for women captured by Boko Haram and ISWAP.
Reuters details how after enduring repeated torture and rape at the hands of the jihadist militants for years, Fati was rescued by the Nigerian military only to undergo a forced chemical abortion in which she experienced “searing pain,” surrounded by other women who were similarly suffering through abortions.
For the second consecutive year, Nigeria has been left off of the U.S. State Department’s list of countries that engage in or tolerate the world’s worst religious freedom violations, despite regular reports of kidnappings and killings of Christians.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced this year’s designations on Dec. 2, and although several Islamic terrorist groups active in Nigeria were listed, Nigeria itself was not.
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