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Dikwa firewood collectors accuse Fulani herders of rape

5 February 2024
Reading time: 3 minutes

Women say it is becoming increasingly dangerous for them to collect wood in the bushes and forests of the Dikwa district of Borno State because of sexual assaults by Fulani herders.

Women firewood collectors in Dikwa have accused Fulani herders of rape.
They say the number of women who have been raped in the past three months has increased and they are scared to go into the bushes and forests to collect wood because so many women have been sexually violated and assaulted.

Bushes and forests have become “no-go” areas, they say, and many of them have stopped collecting wood even though it is the only means they have to make money.

A victim, who asked to remain anonymous, told RNI that she was raped last week by a Fulani herder.

“I was with a group of women fetching firewood. I finished before the other women and I walked ahead and waited under a tree for them to finish.
“A while later, I realised the other women had gone and I was alone. On my way home I came across a Fulani herder who blocked my path. He was strong. He grabbed me and tried to rape me. I fought as hard as I could and he drew a big knife.

“He stabbed my body and I started bleeding. Even though I was bleeding, the man did not stop. But I was determined not to let him rape me. It took all my strength. I managed to hit him with the firewood I had collected. He fell down and I ran away from him.”
The woman said when she got home, she was taken to a hospital where she received treatment.

She said the Fulani herders were always aggressive and all the women who collected firewood were afraid of them.
“In the past three months, it has got worse. Quite a few women have been raped. It’s very difficult for us because we have to collect firewood to make money. If we stop going into the bushes and forests, we will starve. Our families will starve.

“My advice to women is that they should always go into the bushes and forests in a group. The herders attack only when a woman is on her own.”

An 18-year-old woman from Dikwa, who also asked to remain anonymous, said: “I was raped by two men who I am sure were Fulani herders. They attacked me as I was on my way home after collecting firewood. They were brutal and I was left lying unconscious. I have no idea who rescued me. When I woke up I was in hospital.

“No woman is safe if she comes across Fulani herders. It doesn’t matter if she is old or young, married or single. All they care about is that she’s a woman.”
Habib Mohammed, a member of the civilian joint task force (CJTF) in Dikwa, told RNI that a meeting was held among security personnel to discuss the disturbing issue of women being raped by Fulani herders.

“We reported the rapes to the military. They have promised they will tackle the issue and sort out the problem.
“These women rely on collecting firewood to make money. My advice to them is that they should not go too far into the bushes and forests. Now that the military and the CJTF are aware of the problem, we will be on the lookout.”


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