Stigmatization: The Sad Fate Of ‘Boko Haram Wives’


It is bad enough that women were abducted and forced into marriage to Boko Haram militants. But what is worse is that these women return to another phase of abuse and stigmatization. By no fault of theirs they were ill-treated and subjected to sexual slavery.

At the abduction of the over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria, everyone worried about their fate. Most particularly was, supposing they are rescued given the long time it was taking to discover them, how will they fit in again into the normal society? That, really is the question now. What is the fate of these molested women when they return to civil society. Do they get all the support, sympathy and care that they deserve? There are lots and lots of questions to ask…

Sadly these women re-enter the civil society to be treated almost the same way that they were treated in the Boko Haram camps. They face a great deal of stigmatization. Already they are going through psychological challenges that are unseen by the physical eyes. And to rub salt on injury, their supposed ‘freedom’ becomes an extension of their psychological hurdle and trauma.

See Also: ‘Bad Blood’ Babies And Boko Haram Legacy: Why The Government Should Care

Report says that these victims were abducted as young as 8 years old- children/women who were held against their will. They are even killed if they resisted orders or when their militant husbands get tired of them. On what should have been a happy reunion, these unfortunate girls and women return to war-grazed communities, homeless and with no one left to say welcome, no one to give them hugs and be happy that they are back. They return to absolutely nothing.

In view of this hopeless situation, the federal government of Nigeria has set up displacement camps for them to dwell in. But even at that, it will still take much more for these girls/women to feel safe and at home.

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Just like their ‘Boko haram husbands’, they are accused of being accomplices to terrorism. Since the latest discovered suicide bombers are women, these ‘Boko haram wives’ are still dreaded and seen in that light. In other words, these women are not in any way welcome.

“We can’t trust any of them,” – Undisclosed Source

According to UNICEF, 39 of 89 Boko Haram suicide bombings in 2015, were done by women. 21 of them were under 18, probably abducted and trained into Islamic assassins. Indoctrination appears to be the nearest reason why these girls end up as suicide bombers.

It is debatable that this unleashed mayhem by Boko Haram terrorists might not be as much of a religious battle as it is a “wild appetite for sex and violence.” This is because nothing explains why they cannot do without abducting and indiscriminately raping women as it pleases them.

See Also: Hungry Boko Haram Members Surrender To Nigerian Army

“These people have a certain spiritual conviction that any child they father will grow to inherit their ideology,” – Kashim Shettima, Borno State Governor.

In the same way, the Boko Haram wives are discriminated for fear of yielding to their precepts and ideologies.

The displacement camps are fast getting over-populated. As at last month, there was an estimated population of 2.6 million internally displaced people – IDPs – in Nigeria (International Organization for Migration). From time to time, the military questions the dwellers of the displacement camps, the abducted women especially to ascertain where their loyalty lies. It is so sad that even a 9-year-old has been used as an Islamic attacker and suicide bomber.

The sad truth is that there is a tendency that these women have been brainwashed. And as such could pose a threat to co-dwellers in the camps and to the nation. As the stigmatization goes on and stretches from the women to their children, history might as well be getting ready to repeat itself. When these set of children grow up experiencing so much animosity and rejection, it is easy for them to be probably deceived into unleashing their anger for the hurt done to them. In other words, making an already seeming bleak future completely dim for the generation unborn.

It is indeed a double edge sword that the good course of rescuing and catering for Boko Haram victims is a gateway for hatching potential terror. However, some survivors have been engaged in counselling activities to attempt healing their wounds and coping with stigmatization. The government as well set a de-radicalization centre to that effect but sadly the initiative has long been dysfunctional.

See Also: Human Rights Watch Flays Nigerian Government Over Ignored Boko Haram Kidnap

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