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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


ADEGBITE, Folashade Rose. Rethinking abortion laws in Nigeria: The trauma of rape victims of Boko Haram. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2021, vol.21, n.2, pp.1036-1057. ISSN 1996-2096.

Abortion is the medical procedure of expelling a fetus from the uterus before it can result in a live birth. Several means are adopted to achieve this, either by taking medication or having a surgical procedure. 'Abortion' in the context of this research differs from 'miscarriage', a situation whereby pregnancy ends naturally without medical intervention, often referred to as spontaneous abortion. Reasons for abortion vary, ranging from health risks to economic factors, personal misadventure, socio-cultural factors and many others. Diverse justifications have been advanced both in favour of and against the liberalisation of abortion laws globally. Nigerian laws allow abortion only to preserve the life of the mother in the case of medical challenges; abortion done for any other contrary reason is proscribed and regarded as a crime. However, the recent experience ofthe Boko Haram insurgency resulting in humanitarian crises is novel to the existing legal framework. Abducted under-aged girls and women were severely and repeatedly raped and sexually abused, resulting in unwanted pregnancies. Upon being rescued, the traumatised victims' desire for elective abortion unfortunately is not captured in the nation's abortion laws. In this research the issues of rights to the life, sexual and reproductive rights and the economic implications of unwanted pregnancies are critically examined and the well-being of these victims is juxtaposed with the restrictive abortion laws in Nigeria predating the emerging trends. The article recommends an amendment allowing elective abortion in certain circumstances as this will create a new balance and reflect positive social change.

Keywords : abortion; abortion law; sexual and reproductive rights; well-being; victims of Boko Haram.

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