It’s been two years since 276 school­girls were kid­napped by the ex­trem­ist group Boko Haram in the vil­lage of Chi­bok, Nige­ria. While the group con­tin­ues kid­nap­ping more women and girls to keep as slaves, hun­dreds have been es­caped. hears their sto­ries of

Marie Claire

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - INTERNATIONAL REPORT -

MARYAM WAS STROLLING to her fam­ily’s farm in the rocky hills be­hind the north­east­ern Nige­rian town of Gwoza when two Boko Haram ghters blocked her path. The in­sur­gents had over­run the area sev­eral months be­fore, ran­sack­ing food stores and con­script­ing young men at gun­point into raid­ing homes to ex­tend their con­trol across the re­gion. Women were dragged away to re­mote camps where they were sub­jected to forced mar­riage and rape; some were even brain­washed into be­com­ing sui­cide bombers. The 20-year-old mother of two had so far kept clear of the mil­i­tants’ wrath, but on this day, the men each took turns rap­ing her while the other held a ma­chete blade against her neck. Maryam begged to be let go, but she knew re­sist­ing could mean death.

Af­ter the at­tack, Maryam was marched to a for­est camp, where she would spend the next two months with dozens of women rounded up in mass kid­nap­pings. Though many of the ghters had forcibly taken mul­ti­ple wives, she be­came the ser­vant of a group of male teenagers, who were of­ten riled up from days spent loot­ing and killing. They taunted her with ma­chine guns and vi­o­lated her at will, anony­mously, their faces cloaked in black scarves. On the worst days, up to four men took turns with her.

While Boko Haram’s ori­gins and ide­ol­ogy are con­tested, ev­ery­one agrees its per­se­cu­tion of women has been to­tal through­out its cam­paign to carve out a state ruled by strict Is­lamic law. The rad­i­cal mil­i­tant group is es­ti­mated to have ab­ducted at least 2 000 women and girls since 2014, the year it gained global no­to­ri­ety for kid­nap­ping 2 6 school­girls from a dor­mi­tory in Chi­bok, Nige­ria, spurring the cam­paign BringBack­OurGirls. To­day, most of th­ese women – Chris­tians and Mus­lims alike – are still held in bush camps, where they en­dure forced labour, com­bat, tor­ture and sex­ual slav­ery. They are the liv­ing ca­su­al­ties of a six-year-old in­sur­gency that has claimed 1 000 lives and dis­placed more than 2.6 mil­lion.

Young girls up­rooted by the Boko Haram in­sur­gency study at a tem­po­rary school in Yola, Nige­ria, where they are taught by vol­un­teer teach­ers who were also dis­placed

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.