While world governments are focused on ending terrorist attacks, their groups, and improving national security, there is an angle that is being overlooked.
When Boko Haram’s captors are freed or rescued, their lives usually do not remain the same. They are tagged as bad blood; a taboo. They are faced with discrimination and often rejected by their families and communities.
‘Bad blood‘ is a term used to describe children who are born as a result of sexual violence, and also women and girls that are associated with Boko Haram. Kimairis Toogood, peace building adviser for International Alert in Nigeria said;
“These findings show a pressing need to do more to reintegrate those returning from captivity by Boko Haram. Many of these girls already face lasting trauma of sexual violence and being separated from their families, so we must ensure they get all the support they need when they finally return.
If the needs of these survivors and returning populations are not met, these factors could add another dimension to an already complex conflict situation.”
The Boko Haram insurgents who started out as stick-wielding protesters have become a cause for international concern. The jihadists whose primary agenda is to get rid of Western education in Nigeria and also create an islamic state, have killed over 6000, not only in Nigeria but in cross-border attacks.
One of their biggest attacks, that got international media talking for weeks was the abduction of over 250 school girls. Although none of these girls were rescued, some girls escaped from the extremists camp in Sambisa forest.
People who escape or are rescued from the vicious hands of these extremists tell tales of what goes on in Boko Haram camps. Some of the captives are subjected to sexual violence, while some get trained to be militants, and so on.
When they return, their families and communities reject them for fear that they are now inherent killers and will be the next generation of boko haram terrorists. The children born out of rape are also marginalized for fear that they retain some characteristics from their father (boko haram militant) hence the term ‘bad blood’.
“The rejection and re-victimization of women, girls and their children, as well as their yet unborn babies, needs to be understood in the context of the ongoing insurgency,” the report said.
“Many people view these women, girls and their children as a direct threat, fearing that they have been indoctrinated and radicalized by JAS [Jama’atul ahl al-sunnah li da’awati wal jihad, the name of the group commonly known as Boko Haram]. The recent increase in the use of female suicide bombers throughout Nigeria, including under 18-year-olds, has also reinforced the widely held belief among many that women and girls exposed to JAS (whether by force or voluntarily) are contributing to the overall insecurity in the region.”
For lack of a good support system, this group needs a stronger pillar to lean on. The report also urges NGOs and governments to put in extra work to make sure the victims of the terrorists are not further side-lined upon freedom.