April 25, 2024

Chibok girls: A decade of captivity is too long

Chibok girls: A decade of captivity is too long

Ten years after the abduction of 276 secondary school girls in Borno State, 90 are still not accounted for, while 48 parents have passed on waiting for the return of their girls. This report by Amnesty International Nigeria captures the mood of some of the girls who have returned home and that of their parents, as well as the expectations of some parents who are awaiting the return of their girls.

By Adesina Wahab

Ten years ago, 276 schoolgirls were abducted from a government secondary school in Chibok, a town in Borno State, Nigeria. Some of the girls escaped captivity on their own, while others were released following intense campaigning efforts from organizations, including Amnesty International.

However, 90 remain in captivity, while more than 1,400 children have been abducted in subsequent attacks. Amnesty International spoke with some of the young women who were safely returned and the mothers of those who are still missing.

The girls who are rebuilding their lives:

(1) Glory Mainta was kidnapped 10 years ago. She has now been released, graduated high school and is rebuilding her life.

“I am one of the abducted Chibok girls. It was painful to be separated from my parents. My captors did a lot of things to me and the other girls. We were beaten, shouted at – there’s nothing that they didn’t do to us. While they didn’t force us to marry them, what they did to us was worse. We were just managing till God saved us. I had to fetch water, sweep the grounds and do a lot of things women are not supposed to do. It made me feel bad.

“I cannot even describe how happy I felt the day I learnt I was to be released. I felt like I was in heaven. Since my release, I have returned to school. I was scared to go back at first, so I changed schools to stay close to my parents – I don’t want to spend another minute without them. I have now graduated from secondary school.

“When I was in the hands of Boko Haram, I missed everything. I feel very sad for the girls who are still in captivity. My hope is that they regain freedom like us. We know what it was like in there, so that’s why I want them to be free, so they can be with their parents.”

(2) Mary Dauda was abducted by Boko Haram. She reveals the reality of what life was like when she was held in captivity.

“I remember the day I was taken. It was very bad, I was crying – it’s still so painful. The place I was held captive was very bad. It is something we never expected. We suffered there. We were hungry. We kept thinking of our parents at home and wondered whether we would ever be reunited with them. We wondered how we would stay with our captors, as we didn’t know them.

“We had heard a lot of stories about Boko Haram and now we were in their clutches, we didn’t know how it would end. These thoughts kept running through my mind. When we were held in captivity, our captors told us we had to marry them otherwise they wouldn’t give us food. We had to build rooms for them and sweep them, so they could get married and sleep inside. They said if we married them, that would be our lives; if we didn’t, we would be their slaves. Those that refused to marry them are still held in captivity.
“I was released in 2016 and I was overjoyed. I felt like I had been reborn. After I was released, I went to school for three years, then I got married. I now live with my husband and my two children. I would like to return to education at some point – I want to ensure my children go to school and become self-reliant. As for the remaining Chibok girls, I hope they will be released.”

The mother who got her daughter back

(3) Rose Musa’s daughter was kidnapped by Boko Haram 10 years ago and has now been returned home.

“I experienced double tragedy when my daughter was abducted. During the same month, my town was attacked and my husband was killed. I was around three months pregnant at the time and I was the only one in the house. Thankfully God gave me strength to go on, and it’s because of him that I am still alive.
“When I heard that my daughter Junmai Miutah had been released, I was so happy and proud. Although hearing what she went through hasn’t been easy.

What happened in the bush is not OK and she was badly affected by it. When she came home, she wouldn’t eat. She didn’t want to talk to other children. “Thankfully, she is back in school now and doing well. She is living a good life, supporting the rest of my children and helping to solve any problems that arise. She wants to continue with her education.

“I won’t forget those that are still held in captivity. We are praying for their safe return. I want the government to work with others to ensure the other girls can return home – I want their parents to experience the same pride I feel when I look at my daughter.”

The mothers whose daughters are still missing

(4) Mary Abdullahi’s daughter Bilkis is still missing.

“Since my daughter was abducted, I haven’t heard anything from her or about her. I don’t know how she’s doing. I haven’t seen her. I feel bad whenever her name is mentioned. I want the government to do something about it. Our girls weren’t taken from home, they were taken from school. It’s the government that must intervene. Some girls have been released, so I hope that if I continue to plead with the government, my daughter will come home too.

“I would be so happy if I was able to see my daughter again or speak to her – it’s been 10 years now. I really hope that organizations will continue to campaign for the release of the girls still held in captivity. I just want to see my daughter. That’s my hope.”

(5) Comfort Ishaya’s daughter, Hauwa, was abducted 10 years ago. She is still missing.

“My daughter, Hauwa, was abducted from Chibok 10 years ago. When it happened, I felt very bad. There was nothing I could do. It felt like the blood stopped flowing through my body. As a mother, it’s not easy giving birth to a child. I breastfed her for nine months. Then, a few days before her final school exams, she was abducted. It felt we no longer had a relationship.

“When we heard the girls had been released, I hoped my daughter was one of them, but she wasn’t. Every time someone is released, it’s so painful to realize it’s not your daughter.

“I wonder whether my daughter is still alive. I really hope she is. That’s what I want. When I eat my food, I think about her and wonder whether she has food. I am always thinking about her. I really hope I can see my daughter again, no matter how old she will be.

“We can’t forget about the girls who are still missing. I am always thinking about them. I am still searching for my daughter. I want the government at all levels to continue to support me. I hope and pray we see them again.”

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