On the night of April 14th-15th 2014, 276 female students were abducted by Boko Haram from their school in the town of Chibok in the Borno state, Nigeria. Over the next three years, over 100 were freed and reunited with their family. There are still over a hundred missing today. But the ones who have made it out are on their way to recovery.
Thousands of women and girls have even abducted by Boko Haram in their eight year insurgency. At least 20,000 people have died and over a further 2.6 million people displaced. Obtaining the most recent exchange of the 82 girls was not an easy decision. In exchange for the girls, five Boko Haram suspects were handed over. The deal has been criticized by People’s Democratic Party, which stated the exchange had allowed terrorists to escape punishment and would embolden them to carry out further kidnappings, while the “piecemeal” release of the girls meant they still held bargaining chips.
But just because the have been found, it does not mean they will be reunited with their families.
In fact, none of the 21 girls that were found in October of 2016 have been able to move back home. And if they do make it back, some face stigmatization for what they have endured.
“Boko Haram wives” are what they are called. Some were mocked and teased so badly they fled their towns. Executive director of the United Nations Population Fund stated “When you have been in captivity against your will, and God knows whatever they have done to them, some of them will have been violated, some raped, food insecure … We need to take them, work with them and bring them back to the reality of their lives,” But that can be hard when the girls are not being accepted back into the societies they feel safe in.
82 of the girls that were released recently will be reunited with their parents in the capital of Borno. The women’s minister said the recently-released 82 would be reunited at another facility in the capital with 24 of their classmates who were released or found last year. The girls will receive psycho-social therapy and vocational training in an attempt to integrate them back into society. The goal is to have all the girls enrolled in school by September.
Boko Haram has been terrorizing Nigeria for quite some time, the group established in 2003 as a group following a charismatic preacher by the name of Mohammed Yusuf and clashing with authority. In 2013 the group went to a new level. The group began to carry out more audacious attacks in northern and central Nigeria, including bombing churches, bus ranks, bars, military barracks and even the police and UN headquarters in the capital, Abuja. In 2013 a state of emergency was declared for Borno, Yabe, and Adamawa. Boko Haram promotes a type of Islam that makes it forbidden (Haram) for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity that s associated with a Western society. The extremes they pull have ruined lives many innocent people.
With more than half of the girls returning to Chibok, there can only be hope that the rest can be rescued. The hope is that when these girls are found they can move forward with their lives and not be defined by their adverse experience.
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