The United Nations has urged the federal government to relax the abortion laws in Nigeria for girls who became pregnant in Boko Haram captivity.
The international organization Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein made the appeal in New York last Wednesday in a special session on Boko Haram.
Amnesty International estimates that Boko Haram fighters have kidnapped more than 2,000 women and girls in northeast since the beginning of 2014, including the 276 girls seized from their school in Chibok last year.
According to Al-Hussein, “Many survivors of these horrific experiences are now pregnant by their rapists … and several reportedly wish to terminate these unwanted pregnancies but i note that abortion is legal in Nigeria only when the life of the woman is at risk.
“Human rights mechanisms have consistently called for ensuring access to safe abortion services beyond the protection of the woman’s life, including in cases of rape, and to preserve the health of the woman,” he said.
The Rights chief said as a result of the unwanted pregnancies, government should have a rethink over the abortion law.
“Taking this into account, I strongly urge the most compassionate possible interpretation of the current regulations in Nigeria to
include the risk of suicide and risks to mental health for women and young girls, who have suffered such appalling cruelty.”
In May, The New York Times quoted Borno Gov. Kashim Shettima as saying that some Boko Haram fighters “even pray before mating, offering supplications for God to make the products of what they are doing become children that will inherit their ideology.”
Abortion in Nigeria is illegal and carries a heavy jail sentence–up to 14 years imprisonment–unless it is performed to save the life of the pregnant woman. Nevertheless, a large number of clandestine abortions continue to be carried out regularly, often with dire consequences for the lives and health of the women involved.