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International human rights law and the victimization of women by the Boko Haram Sect

Olusola Adegbite
Oreoluwa Oduniyi
Ayobami Aluko


In the course of the Boko Haram insurgency, the female gender has become the worst hit in terms of inhuman and degrading treatment. Women and girls have experienced the most horrific form of debasement. The group has not disguised its disdain for the female gender, neither has it been ashamed about its intentions at using them as weapons of war. With its murderous rage against females, the insurgency has in some aspect been conducted as a war against women and girls. This is clearly a violation of women’s rights under International Human Rights Law (IHRL). This article examines Boko haram’s war of attrition against women and girls in the course of the insurgency, and how several of the group’s activities violates the principal women’s rights instrument i.e. the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It argues that the challenge of protecting women’s rights in the conflict is rooted in the patriarchal hegemony of the region, which in some material respect is in direct conflict with the position under IHRL, making practical implementation difficult. It submits that in thinking and formulating strategies at improving women’s right protection under IHRL, a proper understanding of these unwholesome practices is of high utility value in determining the approach to adopt. It advocates a paradigm shift towards more women involvement in the region, that would help drive more respect for women’s rights