Women’s Struggles in Nigeria – Chibok Girls Just One Example

ICC Note: The release of a video by Boko Haram featuring the still captive Chibok girls has re-sparked the conversation about their rescue and given it more urgency. The Chibok girls, however, are only one example of women suffering in Nigeria. There have been thousands of other girls abducted by Boko Haram in the past seven years, and the women who aren’t abducted are often left widowed when their husbands are murdered by the violence taking place in the country. These women are left completely alone to care for themselves and their children; many times they resort to prostitution of some kind in order to provide for their families. The girls who escape or are rescued from captivity with Boko Haram are ostracized from their communities and sometimes even their families as they are suspected to be working with Boko Haram after having lived in captivity with them. The children of such women face even more discrimination as the product of rape and children of terrorists. While the rescue of the Chibok girls is urgent, there are many other solutions needed to help women in Nigeria. Many of these suffering women are Christian since the populations targeted by both Boko Haram and the Fulani herders are predominantly Christian.

08/21/2016, Nigeria (The Guardian) - Are they the Chibok girls?” Every time there is news of the women and girls held by Boko Haram – as Jama’at Ahlus-Sunnah Lida’awati wal-Jihad (JAS) is commonly known – this is always one of the first questions; and the answer is usually no.

Then last Sunday JAS released a video apparently showing some of the girls, and demanded the release of fighters in exchange for them.

The abduction of 276 girls from a school in Chibok, in north-east Nigeria, in April 2014 captured national and international attention. The efforts of women activists in the city of Maiduguri and the Bring Back Our Girls campaign prompted global protests and offers of support from governments around the world. The Chibok girls joined corruption, “419” email scams and oil as what the outside world knows of Nigeria.

The attention has all but died down even though, 856 days after the abduction, the majority of the girls are yet to come home. This video, which gave a sign that some were still alive and in JAS hands, has reignited national and international debate about what should be done.

Although the abduction from Chibok and the inability to secure the release of the girls has become symbolic of the conflict and the government response, it is representative of systemic issues rather than an exceptional case. That at least 2,000 women and girls were taken by JAS between January 2014 and April 2015 is now well known. Those who escape or are rescued find inadequate services for their needs, and are often stigmatised and feared by families, friends and communities.

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