We have heard much in recent years about the ruthless insurgency of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and within the borders of neighbouring countries. The world was particularly outraged when it learned of the abduction of 274 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok. Some good news has emerged in recent months with the freedom achieved by 161 of the girls, though relief and joy is tempered by the knowledge that 113 girls remain under the control of the terrorist group.
President Muhammadu Buharihas declared that Boko Haram is ‘practically defeated’. The truth is, however, they are still operative and still hold sway over large territories within which they are able to move, establish camps and conceal large numbers of hostages.
On June 4, 2017, Cathal McMahon, writing for the Irish Independent’s ‘Review’ section, offers detailed and harrowing insights about what life is like for abducted young women. Reporting on an Irish humanitarian initiative, Plan International Ireland, which specialises in children’s rights and equality for girls, McMahon interviewed two young women, who had escaped from Boko Haram: Maimuna, who was just 17 when she was abducted; and Gwoza, who was 14. Both were repeatedly beaten, sexually abused and left pregnant.
The report outlines that having returned to their families, the young women now face additional challenges, including rejection and the stigma of having been raped and ‘married’ to Boko Haram fighters.
The article also carries a short video vox pop by Paul O’Brien, head of Plan International Ireland, outlining the work the charity is doing to help communities, and especially girls and young women, trying to recover from their traumatic ordeal at the hands of Boko Haram.
Plan International Ireland offer the following disturbing statistics on their website:
Girls are most vulnerable in a refugee crisis. They are at increased risk of child marriage, sexual violence and are denied an education;
One girl every two seconds is forced to get married;
Out of school, girls become invisible;
Gender based violence affects 70% of women in a conflict or crisis.
You may read Cathal McMahon’s full article by clicking here.