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Dissertation Defense by Modupe Oshikoya


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Exploring the impact of insurgencies on gender-based violence and the Nigerian armed forces: The Boko Haram Case

Dissertation Defense by Modupe Oshikoya, Global Governance and Human Security PhD Program


The counterinsurgency tactics employed by the Nigerian armed forces to combat Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād, otherwise known as Boko Haram, have resulted in wide spread human rights violations committed towards the civilian population. These patterns of violence echo the armed forces long history of operating with impunity in past security operations, both within internal security operations in Nigeria, as well as during peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Their behavioral conduct raises important questions of state armed forces who engage in acts of violence against the very population they are tasked to protect whilst under stress.

This PhD research seeks to evaluate how the internal organizational culture of the Nigerian armed forces contributes to the perpetration of gender-based violence on the civilian population. Three major research questions are addressed: 1) In what way do militarized masculinities influence the behavior of individuals within the Nigerian armed forces to commit gender-based violence? 2) How does the immediate threat of direct violence by a group like Boko Haram impact on the levels of gender-based violence exhibited by the Nigerian armed forces? 3) What roles do communities have in creating an environment of permissibility that allows the occurrence of gender-based violence by the Nigerian armed forces?

This research contends that the enduring nature of the Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria has cultivated a unique environment that has led to the ongoing perpetration of gender-based violence by the Nigerian armed forces. As such, the empirical research data evaluates the perpetration of gender-based violence on the civilian population living in active conflict zones impacted by the Boko Haram insurgency, as well as ethno-religious and inter-communal violence. My original contribution to knowledge is the analysis of the internal organizational culture through external perspectives of the civilian population. Empirical research data from members of the civilian population living with or near deployed armed forces personnel give insights into their behavioral conduct and patterns of gender-based violence. These patterns of behavior by the armed forces personnel reveal shared organizational characteristics of culture, that will be analyzed both methodologically and analytically.

Darren Kew, PhD, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Chair
Margaret Karns, PhD, University of Massachusetts Boston
B. Jane Parpart, PhD, University of Massachusetts Boston
Stephen Chan, OBE, PhD, University of London

For disability-related accommodations, including dietary accommodations, please visit www.ada.umb.edu two weeks prior to the event.