The Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners at the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) announced the release of a research report on sexual and reproductive rights in conflict settings at a recent event in Abuja, Nigeria.
The report, titled “The Conflict in Northeast Nigeria’s Impact on the Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls,” presents key findings from years of work documenting how the ongoing Boko Haram conflict has affected the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women in Northeast Nigeria.
The decade-long Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in over 40,000 civilian deaths throughout Nigeria and led to the displacement of over two million people. More than half of those displaced are women and girls. Women and girls have been particularly vulnerable to the Boko Haram insurgents, who have targeted them for exploitation—including rape, sex trafficking, and forced marriage—while also denying them access to basic reproductive and sexual health care, such as obstetrics, contraception, and safe abortion services.
“This report is a result of many years of work in Nigeria,” Betty Odallo, Advocacy Adviser at the Center, said. “Our findings show that the provision of sexual reproductive health services is often not prioritized during humanitarian responses, which poses severe challenges for women and girls affected by the conflict in Nigeria.”
The report’s launch event brought together a broad range of Nigerian and international human rights champions, representatives from the U.N., government agencies, civil society organizations, and foreign missions, including officials from the Swedish Embassy, National Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International Nigeria, Federation of Women Lawyers Nigeria (FIDA), Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), LEDAP and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
In addition to the report’s presentation, the event also included a stakeholders’ dialogue. This discussion covered key issues around SRHR in conflict zones, including how a systemic lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services—such as contraception, abortion care, and trauma-related counseling—harms the safety and well-being of Nigerian women and girls.
A representative from the National Human Rights Commission stressed that the research report is an important and useful tool to advance SRHR as human rights in Nigeria, as the Nigerian government is legally bound to implement human rights treaties and regional human rights law on SRHR violations.
Anna Rääs, Deputy Head of Mission at the Swedish Embassy in Nigeria, underlined that “the dialogue around this report will be an important contribution to improve prioritization of sexual and reproductive services, including in relation to existing legislative frameworks.”
As a next step, the Center and LEDAP will now move to leverage the report’s findings to take advocacy actions at regional and national levels, including providing tailored capacity building and training to government officials, humanitarian actors, and health care providers. “Through these actions, and engaging law enforcement as well as the courts, we hope to secure accountability for SRHR violations and ensure the health, safety, and well-being of Nigerian women and girls affected by conflict,” Odallo said.
Learn more about the Center’s work in Nigeria below: