October 28, 2014.
Over 500 women and children have been abducted by the Boko Haram sect from 2009 till date, the Human Rights Watch said in a report yesterday.
The report said those abducted by the sect were forced to marry, convert and endure physical and psychological abuse, forced labour and rape in captivity, despite the imposition of a state of emergency by the Nigerian government since May 2013.
The report said the sect has intensified abduction of women and young girls in the past 17 months that the emergency rule has been in place.
Tagged: “Those Terrible Weeks in Their Camp: Boko Haram Violence against Women and Girls in Northeast Nigeria,” the rights group said the 63-page report was based on interviews with more than 46 witnesses and victims of Boko Haram abductions in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, including girls who escaped the April 2014 abduction from Chibok.
The report said accounts from witnesses and the escaped girls suggested that the Nigerian government has failed to adequately protect women and girls from a myriad of abuses, provide them with effective support and mental health and medical care after captivity, ensure access to safe schools, or investigate and prosecute those responsible for the abuses.
Daniel Bekele, Africa’s director at Human Rights Watch was quoted as saying in the report that the Chibok tragedy and #Bring Back Our Girls campaign focused much-needed global attention on the horrific vulnerability of girls in North-east Nigeria.
“Now the Nigerian government and its allies need to step up their efforts to put an end to these brutal abductions and provide the medical, psychological, and social needs of the women and girls who have managed to escape,” he said.
The report added that the ease with which the insurgents abducted the Chibok schoolgirls seemed to have emboldened them to carry out more attacks on villages in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Bekele was further quoted as saying: “The survivors of Boko Haram violence should not be ashamed and frightened into silence,” adding: “It is Boko Haram that should be ashamed of the abuses they commit against women and girls in their extreme interpretation of religious text.
“Before mid-2013, Boko Haram had abducted a small number of individual women and girls, either from their homes or the streets in the group’s then-stronghold of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, or in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State.
“In the cases documented by Human Rights Watch, Boko Haram abducted married women as punishment for not supporting the group’s ideology, and took unmarried women and girls as brides after insurgents hastily offered money to the families who feared retaliation if they resisted.”
Human Rights Watch said by its estimates, more than 7,000 civilians have been killed in hundreds of Boko Haram attacks in North-east Nigeria and the federal capital, Abuja since 2009.
At least 4,000 of those deaths occurred between May 2013 and September 2014. Evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch strongly indicates that the situation in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, especially Borno State, constitutes an armed conflict to which international humanitarian law applies.