In heart-wrenching narrations that revealed the vulnerability of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Katsina State, some women have opened up on their battle against the harsh realities of poverty, insecurity and gender-based exploitation.
Their sad tale illustrates how insecurity and poverty are driving women to desperate measures.
This report delves into the challenges faced by these women, spotlighting their courage and the efforts being made to improve their lives.
…From Poverty to Prostitution…
A disturbing trend is being witnessed in Katsina, where women are forced into prostitution as a last resort for survival.
This unfortunate situation came to light through the vigilant efforts of a local non-governmental organisation, NGO, triggering a much-needed investigation into the dire circumstances faced by these displaced women.
Hajiya Binta Dangani, the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), confirmed the troubling situation. She revealed that the NGO had brought four women trapped in the predicament to SEMA’s attention.
The women, who were not named as a result of the sensitive nature of the subject, shared their stories, shedding light on the harsh realities they are forced to endure in order to survive.
The story told by one of the victims paints a horrible picture of her life.
According to her, she and her family members fled their community to escape attacks by bandits. But the traumatic event cost her mother’s life. Left with no refuge and abandoned by her uncle, she said she was compelled to turn to prostitution for survival.
“My mother is late. We ran away from our community for fear of bandits. One man now picked me and took me to his house where he repeatedly had sex with me countless times. That’s how I became pregnant,” she said.
Another victim said she was separated from her parents due to alleged maltreatment by her stepmother.
The absence of family support and discipline rendered her vulnerable.
Narrating her ordeal, she said, “We were always in dispute with my father’s wife and on getting wind of it, he goes ahead to beat me mercilessly without finding out what transpired.
“When I couldn’t bear the maltreatment further, I decided to leave the house. Thank God I had some money with me; so, I came to Katsina metropolis,” she said.
Tragically, many of these women disclosed that the men who slept with them offered them just N500 to sustain themselves.
To worsen the situation, a designated collector was taking their earnings on their behalf, thereby trapping them in a cycle of dependency.
A Glimpse of Hope
Reacting to this heart-wrenching development, Hajiya Binta Dangani, the Executive Secretary of SEMA, expressed frustration at the persistent abuse faced by women in Katsina State.
She revealed that “one of the victims had resorted to aborting her pregnancy. Two other victims were also pregnant. One was eight months pregnant, while the other has been pregnant for five months. The fourth victim is not pregnant but has been exploited countlessly by different men.”
Binta said SEMA is making efforts to reorient the women and hold accountable those exploiting their dire circumstances.
She also noted that the state governor, Mallam Dikko Umaru Radda, has been informed of the distressing development and has directed that shelter, food, clothing and mattresses be provided to the victims.
Binta also noted that efforts will be made to facilitate communication with the families of the victims and reunite them where it is possible.
Additionally, she said the state government has already conducted medical tests on the victims in a hospital to ensure their well-being.
Addressing the case of the pregnant victims, she assured that the responsible individuals would be located and brought to justice.
She also noted that stringent measures will be implemented to discourage further exploitation of vulnerable women in the state.
These harrowing accounts spotlight the urgent need to protect and support vulnerable individuals, particularly women and IDPs, in Katsina.
The government and SEMA’s commitment to taking action is a crucial step towards justice and the safety of those who have endured such traumatic experiences