Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Boko Haram Millitants Raped And Beat Us - Abducted Girls

Girls and women abducted by Nigerian Islamist group boko haram have described their shocking life in captivity in a harrowing new report by Human Rights Watch that was published yesterday.

In the 63-page report, entitled “‘Those Terrible Weeks in Their Camp': boko haram Violence against Women and Girls in Northeast Nigeria,” 47 witnesses and victims, including some of the 276 Chibok girls kidnapped in April described forced marriages and, if they were Christian, orders to convert to Islam or be executed.

A 15-year-old girl who was held in a Boko Haram camp for four weeks in 2013 spoke of how she was forced to marry a militant more than twice her age:

“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 who was raped said:

“I could not tell anyone what happened, not even my husband. I still feel so ashamed and cheated.”
Another woman with her, who was also raped, “vowed never to speak of it again as she was single and believes that news of her rape would foreclose her chances of marriage”.

The majority of abductions by Boko Haram were of Christian women and girls, and many of HRW’s interviewees described being threatened with death or violence if they refused to convert to Islam. One woman said:
“I was dragged to the camp leader who told me the reason I was brought to the camp was because we Christians worship three gods. When I objected to his claim, he tied a rope around my neck and beat me with a plastic cable until I almost passed out. An insurgent who I recognised from my village convinced me to accept Islam lest I should be killed. So I agreed.”
Some abducted women and girls described forced labour and participation in military operations. A 19-year-old said:

“I was told to approach a group of five men we saw in a nearby village and lure them to where the insurgents were hiding.” She told the young men that she needed help. “When they followed me for a short distance, the insurgents swooped on them. Once we got back to the camp, they tied the legs and the hands of the captives and slit the throats of four of them as they shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’. Then I was handed a knife to kill the last man. I was shaking with horror and couldn’t do it. The camp leader’s wife took the knife and killed him.”
Many of those interviewed by HRW showed signs of stress and anguish, according to the report, although only the Chibok girls had been offered limited counselling. One 15-year-old girl said:

“I could not stop crying even when the insurgents threatened to kill me if I did not keep quiet. I kept on thinking, is it not better to die now than to face whatever terrible things they could do to me when we get to their camp? Even after I escaped from them and live far away from my village, I am still afraid. I think of death many times. My father tries. He encourages me to forget everything, but it is not easy for me. I have terrible dreams at night.”

All of those interviewed by HRW said more could have been done by government security forces to prevent abductions and respond more quickly when they happened. The organisation calls on the Nigerian authorities to investigate and prosecute those who commit serious crimes, to protect schools and the right to education, and ensure access to medical and mental health services for victims of abductions.

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