Nigeria's Chibok Abductions: Buhari 'Ready to Negotiate'

Nigeria Girls Detail Horrific Boko Haram Abuse

Girls who escaped Nigerian terror group Boko Haram have described the physical torture, rape and forced marriage that many endure in their secret forest camps.

Some victims are also forced to take part in attacks and carry ammunition for fighters during battle. Others have been used as ‘bait’ to lure Christian men to their deaths.

The abuse is detailed in a Human Rights Watch report, which includes first-hand accounts from some of the schoolgirls who escaped after April’s Chibok kidnappings.

More than 270 were taken from a boarding school in the north-east of the country, prompting a high-profile political and social media campaign using the hashtag #Bring Back Our Girls.

It comes after a weekend during which another 30 youngsters – some of them girls aged as young as 11 – were abducted in northeast Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram rebels, according to a local village chief.

In a video released after the abduction the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, said the girls were “slaves” and threatened to “sell them in the market”.

The Nigerian government has said a ceasefire deal with the militant Islamist group is on the verge of freeing the group, but last week more were kidnapped.

Human Rights Watch says new “shocking details” emerged from its interviews.

It reports that the group targets students and Christians, threatening them with whipping, beating, or death unless they convert to Islam, stop attending school, and wear the veil or hijab.

Forced marriage, forced labour, physical torture and rape are also common.

A 19-year-old student, from Borno State, described how militants ambushed her and five friends and threatened to kill them for going to school.

One of the men shouted: “Aha! These are the people we are looking for, so you are the ones with strong heads who insist on attending school when we have said ‘boko’ is ‘haram.’ We will kill you here today.”

The girls were held for several days in the Sambisa forest and only released after they promised to convert to Islam and give up school.

Boko Haram translates roughly from the Hausa language as “Western education is forbidden” and has carried out a campaign of bombings in Nigeria over the past five years, killing 7,000 people, according to Human Rights Watch.

More than 500 girls and woman are said to have been been kidnapped by the group since 2009.

Girls who escape the group’s clutches are often ignored despite having vital intelligence about Boko Haram’s inner workings, says the report.

For example, they often have information on chain of command, ammunition, and how the fighters keep tabs on Nigeria’s military.

But Human Rights Watch claims the government “rarely, if ever” interviews the girls.

The report – called Those Terrible Weeks in Their Camp: Boko Haram Violence against Women and Girls in Northeast Nigeria – includes evidence from 46 witnesses and victims of the group.

Daniel Bekele, Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, says the Nigerian government must do more to protect and rehabilitate the girls, and also to track down those behind the abuse.

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