Chibok Girls Rehabilitation: The First Step To Ensuring An Easy Transition For The Girls



On 6 May, the Nigerian presidency announced that 82 Chibok girls have been released from Boko Haram’s captivity.

According to the presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, it was confirmed that the girls were released in exchange for some Boko Haram suspects.

The 82 Chibok girls were part of a number of school girls from the Chibok community in Borno state, North-Eastern Nigeria who were abducted by the Islamic militants, Boko Haram on April 14, 2014.

The abduction which is the largest of its type to ever occur in Nigeria gripped Nigerians and the rest of the world, causing many to call on the Nigerian government to move swiftly to ensure the return of these girls who were teenagers at most.

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This call was headed by the #BringBackOurGirlsCampaign, led primarily by Co-founder of Transparency International, Oby Ezekwesili. Yet the Nigerian government was slow to bring back the girls. This spurred different thoughts as people wondered if it was all a hoax against the government at the time, others wondered what the delayed rescue implied for the captive girls.

In 2016, 29 months after the girls were abducted, 21 girls were reportedly released following some negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram. The negotiations were mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss Government.

This news reignited faith in the Nigerian government once again as many celebrated the return of these girls and hoped for the return of the remaining girls. In the same manner, many rejoiced at the news of the release of the 82 Chibok girls on Saturday, May 6.

In the midst of this Euphoria, a question that is rarely being asked is the government’s rehabilitation plan for these girls who are in many ways different from the young girls who were abducted over 3 years ago.

According to the ICIR, some of the effects this abduction could have on these girls can be psychological and physical. Some of the psychological effects include developing Stockholm syndrome; a condition in which the person/persons taken hostage develops trust/affection towards their captor.

They could also experience social withdrawal, as well as an adaptation to the ideology and thought process of their captor. The later could lead them to believe that they were rightly abducted and their captors were not their enemies.

They could also experience social withdrawal, as well as an adaptation to the ideology and thought process of their captor. The later could lead them to believe that they were rightly abducted and their captors were not their enemies.

Physically, the victims could be ridden with illnesses or diseases, having lived in a cramped condition for years. Last but not the least is the social stigma associated with the victims. Their freedom, though met with jubilation is often sealed with discrimination when the euphoria subsides. This is usually due to their association–although unintentional–with  Boko Haram.

Women and girls who have come in close contact with Boko Haram terrorists, or married them are often seen as part of the problem, despite having been married against their will. Also with the news of female suicide bombers, many fear that they have it in them to attack.

See Also: Stigmatization: The Sad Fate Of ‘Boko Haram Wives

With all these in mind, a rehabilitation process which will ease the transition of these young ladies into society, and also help them heal from whatever situations they may have gone through while in captivity is tantamount to ensuring their true freedom.

Although the government has a rehabilitation plan set up, the average Nigerian has a role as big as the government’s to ensure the easy transition of these girls from Boko Haram captives to free citizens of Nigeria.

“We appeal to all Nigerians, including the families and local communities of the liberated girls, to fully embrace them and provide all necessary support to ensure their reintegration into society,” a statement by Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General read.

“We remain deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of the schoolgirls and other victims still in captivity,” added the statement.