Vienna, October 2021 – The UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch interviewed Ms. Fatima Bello Raji, a female legal practitioner and humanitarian actor working in Yola, Adamawa State, to discuss the importance of adopting a gender perspective to support victims of terrorism.
Gender dynamics play a significant role in the access to justice, remedies, and support programmes for victims of terrorism. Physical, social, cultural, and economic barriers all have an impact on women’s ability to access support projects.
Recognising that globally, the rights and needs of victims of terrorism have long received insufficient attention, in this year’s review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the General Assembly has again called on Member States to support and assist victims of terrorism, and on the United Nations organization to step up their efforts to provide technical assistance to Member States in this regard. For this reason, UNODC is carrying out a range of activities to effectively mainstream gender in providing support to victims of terrorism and is currently working in partnership with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Inter-Parliamentary Union to develop model legislative provisions that can assist States intending to strengthen their laws regarding the support due to victims of terrorism.
To provide further insight on this, the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch interviewed Ms. Fatima Bello Raji, a female legal practitioner and humanitarian actor working in Yola, Adamawa State on her perspective on adopting a gender perspective to support victims of terrorism in Nigeria.
Terrorism Prevention Branch: At what point did you realise that it is important to take into account gender dimensions and women’s and girls’ rights in supporting victims of terrorism?
In the course of championing the rights of women and girls victims of terrorism, I realized that, in addition to ensuring their right to freedom of liberty, they also need holistic support in other spheres such as medical and psychological rehabilitation, compensation, protection from reprisal attacks by community members, financial empowerment and formal education for themselves and their immediate families. The knowledge and skills I acquired through UNODC trainings and tools has no doubt broadened my horizon on how to collectively work towards improving the gender perspective on criminal justice responses to terrorism including providing all-encompassing support to victims of terrorism. Also, the need to make adequate and gender-specific legislation and put in place mechanisms to ensure their adequate implementation and operationalization in a victim-centered fashion. The platform provided by UNODC has fostered greater coordination and collaboration between key actors of the justice responses to terrorism and the exchange of international and local best practices.
Terrorism Prevention Branch: What are the main challenges and support needs of women and girl victims of terrorism in Northeast Nigeria?
There is inadequate social, physical, mental, legal and financial support provided to victims of terrorism to ensure that they are adequately reintegrated back into society. There is a general lack of awareness of rights, how to access remedies and how to access to justice. Women and girl victims also face severe stigmatization and discrimination, and enjoy limited discretion regarding their associations with terrorist groups because it is a beneficial tactic used by terrorist groups, to institute subsequent ostracisation of women and girl victims. Thereby, making them easy targets of further abuse and discrimination by society. There is a need for an adequate legislative framework that recognizes and upholds the rights of victims of terrorism, makes provision for assistance, support and reparations for both male and female victims of terrorism.
Terrorism Prevention Branch: How would you encourage others who work to support victims of terrorism to take a gender perspective?
I wish to call on all who are involved in supporting victims of terrorism to take a gender perspective in the course of their work, given the enumerated challenges faced by victims based on their gender. In order to understand every one’s needs, challenges, and potentials it is important to apply a gender lens. Each victim of terrorism may be differently affected or impacted. Therefore, one solution cannot not work for all rather every victim deserves to be treated with equity and fairness and by looking at issues from different angles and perspectives.
If you would like to know more about the work on gender and terrorism by the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch, you can find out more here and here.