Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Heartbreaking Story Of How Three Nigerian Girls Escaped Boko Haram [Video]

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Sometimes when I see Boko Haram in the headlines, I just want to forget that I'm Nigerian but I can't help but think of the abducted Chibok girls, those who are still in captivity. Some of them may be dead now, some suffering fates worse than death. Even those who escaped still have to deal with the memories of it all their lives.

I can't help but wonder what the Presidency has been doing since they announced the ceasefire that was supposed to bring back the girls within days. The ceasefire is not holding, the deadline for the release of girls has passed, and yet Boko Haram continues to kill and maim in the North East.

Human Rights Watch has just released a report that includes the stories of some of these returned girls and it is so heartbreaking. Witnesses and victims, including some of the 276 girls kidnapped from their Chibok school in April 2014 described forced marriages and rape.

An 18-year-old victim described how a Boko Haram combatant sexually abused her when she went to use the bathroom:

I did not know he followed me when I walked a short distance away from the tree under which we slept. He grabbed me from behind, roughly fondling me while trying to take off his pants. I screamed in fright and he hurriedly left me as I continued to shout for help.

Another woman, who was raped in 2013 in a Boko Haram camp near Gwoza, described how a commander’s wife appeared to encourage the crime:

I was lying down in the cave pretending to be ill because I did not want the marriage the commander planned to conduct for me with another insurgent on his return from the Sambisa camp. When the insurgent who had paid my dowry came in to force himself on me, the commander’s wife blocked the cave entrance and watched as the man raped me.

A 15-year-old who was abducted in 2013 and spent four weeks with Boko Haram told Human Rights Watch:

After we were declared married I was ordered to live in his cave but I always managed to avoid him. He soon began to threaten me with a knife to have sex with him, and when I still refused he brought out his gun, warning that he would kill me if I shouted. Then he began to rape me every night. He was a huge man in his mid-30s and I had never had sex before. It was very painful and I cried bitterly because I was bleeding afterwards.

A 19-year-old woman, who was married and had children, described how she and one other woman were raped after having been abducted with four other women in April 2014:

When we arrived at the camp they left us under a tree. I managed to sleep; I was exhausted and afraid. Late in the night, two insurgents shook me and another woman awake, saying their leader wanted to see us. We had no choice but to follow them, but as soon as we moved deep into the woods, one of them dragged me away, while his partner took the other woman in another direction. I guessed what they had in mind and began to cry. I begged him, telling him I was a married woman. He ignored my pleas, flung me on the ground, and raped me. I could not tell anyone what happened, not even my husband. I still feel so ashamed and cheated. The other woman told me she was also raped, but vowed never to speak of it again as she was single and believes that news of her rape would foreclose her chances of marriage.

A 20-year-old woman, abducted in September 2013, told Human Rights Watch that the insurgent she was “married” to wore a mask all the time, even when he raped her. Even though she had since escaped, she said,

I am still afraid to go anywhere because he could be any one of the people around me. Every time I see a huge dark man, I jump in fright that it might be him coming to get me back. I stay awake some nights because I dream of those terrible weeks I spent in their camp.

Some of those who were Christian were ordered to convert to Islam or be executed. Others, irrespective of religion talked of being taken to the fighting frontlines, or for looting and forced labor and servitude. Read the full report and download HERE.

Watch the animated video of how three of the Chibo girls escaped below

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