PRAYER ALERT: In one week, from April 26 to May 2, Nigeria’s military rescued 677 captive girls and women from the clutches of Boko Haram. The rescue attempts were fraught with danger. As they heard the rescuers approach, Boko Haram fighters stoned many captives to death. They used other captives as human shields. Several captives hid under bushes. They were crushed when an armored car drove over the bushes. Three Boko Haram escapees died when they stumbled onto a land mine. Others died from stray bullets.
Boko Haram fighters forced some girls to shoot at the approaching troops. But some girls fired at their rescuers under no compulsion at all. One counselor treating Boko Haram escapees said that many of the girl had become so indoctrinated that they believed in their captors’ cause. Others had become emotionally attached to the terrorists they were forced to marry. Some who are pregnant with their captors’ children—either by rape or sexual slavery or forced marriage—are being accused of breeding future terrorists.
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State said, “I am seriously worried with the fact that most women tend to hate and abandon children they deliver from rape. Now, the problem is that these children could go to the streets unattended to, they then lack access to food, health care and education. The result is that they could indeed inherit their fathers’ [ideology] somehow.” Nigerian authorities have detained many Boko Haram escapees for weeks for security screening. They have as yet found few who were among the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014. Amnesty International is calling on those authorities to ensure that the escapees’ “trauma…is not exacerbated” by overlong detention.
But the trauma may be intensify for Boko Haram escapees when they finally return home. They face merciless taunting for being “Boko Haram wives.” Their own family and friends are turning against some for being identified with the hated terrorists. Ostracism has driven some to leave their hometowns and live with relatives elsewhere. The global #BringBackOurGirls campaign has brought back many girls to misery and shame.
This must change, for the militant group is now quickly losing ground. Hundreds more Boko Haram escapees may soon be coming home…
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