Women and children seem to be at a higher risk of assault during any form of armed conflict or hostilities. The impact of hostilities on women is determined not only by the nature and stage of the conflict but also by the specific role of each woman caught up in it. Owing to the general collapse of the rule of law, the proliferation of small weapons, the breakdown of social and family systems, and the “normalization” of gender-based abuse as an added aspect of pre-existing inequality; 96sexual and gender-based violence surges in post-conflict communities during armed conflict and hostilities. Due to the collapse of political, legal, and social systems, as well as high levels of violence and militarism, the trafficking of persons is intensified during and after armed conflicts and hostilities. Although recognizing the general needs of women is of course important, it is also essential to address the basic necessities of women by persons taking part in hostilities. Women are particularly vulnerable to insecurity brought on by armed conflict, especially if they have already been discriminated against in times of peace. Women are also at risk because they often show symbols of cultural or ethnic identity differences, making them easy targets.
Women are especially vulnerable to all kinds of sexual violations, being victims of different forms of abuses. Sexual violence is a problem that, sadly, is common in all forms of hostilities and armed conflicts and its effects are greatly underestimated but seem to have a devastating and dehumanizing impact on sexual abuse on women, their families, and whole populations. Rape is barbaric, though the inevitable result of hostilities and armed conflict deal a kind of collateral damage, as women are seen as spoils of war for the winning party. Abuses, sexual trafficking, forced labour, forced marriage, and forced sterilization are all examples of sexual assault. Sexual abuse may be used for retaliation, instil terror, or as a means of torture. It may also be used systematically as an illegal means of warfare to undermine the social structure. Women are affected differently by violent conflict, whether as victims, accessories, or offenders.
In Nigeria since the emergence of the surge of insecurity and terrorism, hundreds of women and girls have been kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and coerced to marry their adductors. For some of these women, the pain of losing their husbands and children to the violence has left them with lasting memories. Women’s experiences in the Boko Haram conflict, both as victims and offenders, are complex and require responses specific to their needs. Despite increased local and international visibility and mobilization, women and girls in violence face varieties of challenges.
Disruption in Health Care Services in Conflict situations:
Women and girls are more at risk of unplanned birth, maternal deaths and morbidity, serious sexual and reproductive injuries. They are prone to developing sexually transmitted diseases, particularly as a consequence of conflict-related sexual abuse, where access to basic resources such as health care as well as sexual and reproductive health services is interrupted.
In a research conducted by High levels of sexual exploitation of IDPs, with a corresponding increase in HIV transmission rates; a wide range of inadequacies in the provision of SRH services, such as contraception, abortion, and SRH trauma-related psychosocial counselling; evidence of preventable maternal injuries and deaths; and insufficient financing and coordination of acute and protracted humanitarian relief.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also raised the risks for women with disabilities due to disruptions in care, lockdowns, and other government-imposed restrictions on travel that hold women and girls with disabilities trapped in their households, as well as a lack of available knowledge on coronavirus and protective measures from governments and the media.
Despite the increased risk of abuse posed to lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and women with disabilities in armed conflict, they are still marginalized in legislation and programming, leaving them out of decision-making systems and unable to access resources. The following legal frameworks and policies are particularly relevant to ensure the rights of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict settings:
Geneva Conventions 1949: Article 12 of the Geneva Convention, and the corresponding Article 27 of the Geneva Convention IV provide thus: “women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault.”
Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (1979): The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) adopted general recommendation 30 in 2013, which gives States Parties to the Convention authoritative guidelines on legislative, regulation, and other relevant steps to protect, respect, and fulfil women’s human rights in times of tension and uncertainty.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in particular, Article 6 on women with disabilities and Article 11 on situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies;
General Comment No. 9 on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Articles 78-8 0, on the “high priority for special assistance” that states should provide children with disabilities in armed conflicts and noting particular risks to refugees and internally displaced girls.
Interestingly, there is no specific national legislation in Nigeria that particularly addresses the rights of women in armed conflict. Sometimes, the laws regulating armed conflict would need to be further strengthened to ensure adequate protection to the most vulnerable in armed conflict situations. On most occasions, however, the problems do not lie in the law but rather in the lack of respect for the law.”
Conclusion and Recommendation
Women situation in armed conflicts and hostilities is inextricable compared to that of their male counterparts: not only are they members of the same families and cultures, but men are also targeted through women close to them during hostilities. The fate of women will therefore be protected only by adhering to the laws of international humanitarian law which regulates armed conflict and which applies to both combatants and non-combatants, male and female.
Post-conflict situations and changes can be used as an impet
us to change the social frameworks and traditions that existed before the conflict to ensure that women’s civil rights are better protected. The government should collaborate with civil society organizations in the city to find the best solution to the problems of resettling displaced people and women affected by hostilities.