Aisha, a 16-year-old girl with a long hijab, sneaks through the white tent of family planning in the Bakassi displaced camp. She whispers, lest her neighbors hear it: she has been taking the pill for three months.
Like tens of thousands of other Nigerians, the girl fled the violence of the jihadist group Boko Haram near Lake Chad to take refuge in Maiduguri, the big city of the northeast.
Barely out of adolescence, Aisha has already cobbled death and barbarism when the insurgents attacked her fishing village in 2014 and experienced the path of exile through a barren, hostile bush.
In the Bakassi camp, which receives 21,293 displaced people from the four corners of the Borno state (north-east), it is assaults of another type that it must now repel.
“I’ve never been with a man,” she says, lowering her eyes modestly. “But in the camp, there are so many rapes.”
“One of my girlfriends got pregnant like that and I’m afraid it will happen to me too,” she says, as she comes to fetch a “preventive” contraceptive from the International Relief Committee (IRC) family planning.
Another patient tells of having heard the “cries” of her neighbor, one June night. “Boys from the camp entered her tent but nobody came to rescue her. We are always afraid that it is Boko Haram” who attacks.
Rape is taboo in many Hausa and Kanuri families, the two main ethnic groups in the region, and very few women confess to being raped for fear of being rejected, says AFP Alice Janvrin, in charge of reproductive health To the IRC.
“But women and girls tell us that sexual violence is pervasive, both inside and outside the camps,” she said.
Many of them, separated from their families during the violence, landed alone in Bakassi. Even for the other comes accompanied by their husbands, without the possibility to work, the destitution is complete.
In total, there are nearly 2.6 million IDPs and the humanitarian crisis in the northeast is such that food insecurity affects more than 5 million people.
“Displaced people are particularly vulnerable to abuse, many are exchanging sexual services for food, and there are a lot of sexually transmitted infections, abortions, and unwanted pregnancies,” says Janvrin.
Back to school
Opened in September 2016, the women’s center in Bakassi, which also includes a maternity ward and obstetric care service, is unfurling. On benches, dozens of women with round bellies under shimmering veils wait patiently for their turn, despite the overwhelming heat of noon.
On the family planning side, more than 1,000 women have adopted a contraceptive method since January, according to IRC, which has developed similar structures in Monguno, Ngala Gamboru, Konduga … localities where there are a large number of displaced people.
The beneficiaries have the choice between an oral contraceptive, an implant under the skin or a hormonal injection, the effect of which lasts up to three months.
At 20, Fanne Mohammed had “never heard” of contraception before arriving in Bakassi. Already, mother of two children, she tells “the stress of having children again and again”.
“In the village, some women give birth every year, but in the current situation, if I have more children what am I going to feed them?” Asks the young woman.
Talatu Buba, passed by city pregnancies, is relieved since she takes the pill. “Now I have time for myself,” claims the thirties, while her husband had forbidden her to go to family planning.
According to Rachel Sunday Okoye, a midwife, resistances are still strong and many women hide to come to the center.
Sometimes men “feel that we do not want their wives to have children, that they breed, and try to make them understand that this is not the case. pregnancy”.
On Tuesday, a Family Planning Summit will bring together policy-makers and donors from around the world to strengthen efforts to increase women’s access to contraception and enable them to take control of their future and their health. The meeting will focus on southern countries – and conflict zones.
In the Bakassi camp, the young Aisha has only one idea in mind: to return to school – which the war has caused her to abandon – to become a doctor. “I have nothing to do, so I come every day to sit at the clinic to watch them work,” she explains. “I am trying to learn”.