Fear, sexual violence, kidnapping, life for women under Boko Haram

March 7, 2015 | By | Reply More

Mar 07, – When Boko Haram attacks made life at home unbearable, Rebecca Samuel was confronted with a stark choice that any mother would struggle to make.

hromedia Fear, sexual violence, kidnapping, life for women under Boko Haram intl. news3Her family had decided to leave the remote town of Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in March 2014 because of the persistent threats from the Islamist militants.

But Samuel decided that her 17-year-old daughter Sarah should stay back for an extra month to take her final secondary school exams.

On April 14, Boko Haram gunmen stormed Sarah’s school, kidnapping her and 275 of her classmates. Fifty-seven girls escaped, but the rest, including Sarah, have not been heard from since.

“Every day I am crying,” said Samuel, 36, who had been living with her family as refugees in neighbouring Cameroon before relocating to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

But while the Chibok abductions remain the most prominent attack of the six-year insurgency, they represent only a fraction of the atrocities inflicted on women and girls in the bitter conflict.

– War on women –

Human Rights Watch (HRW) last year estimated that the rebels had kidnapped more than 500 women and girls since 2009, including those seized from Chibok but the figure could be much higher.

Female hostages have been forced into marriage, raped and been made to work as domestic slaves for extremist fighters. Some recounted being deployed to carry ammunition on the front line.

Other women forced to run from attacks have trekked for days through the northeast’s harsh bushlands, sometimes with infants strapped to their backs.

And, in a new tactic widely reviled even by other jihadists, Boko Haram has over the last 10 months increasingly used females, including young girls, as human bombs in attacks across the north.

A 33-year-old woman was beaten to death on Sunday at a market in northern Bauchi state following suspicion that she had explosives strapped to her body.

HRW and other experts say the incidents of females and other “vulnerable groups” being targeted has risen dramatically since Boko Haram began facing increased military pressure in 2013.

Overall, the plight facing women in the rebels’ stronghold is “a picture of violence and intimidation”, Jacob Zenn and Elizabeth Pearson wrote in the US Journal of Terrorism Research.

Press journalist for HRO media – Debi Campillos reports.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: International, Women Rights

Leave a Reply