Nigeria: Rape and Forced Marriage By Boko Haram

14 April 2015

An excerpt from the Amnesty report on Boko Haram atrocities, on rape and forced marriage:

People who lived for extended periods of time in Boko Haram camps or in territories controlled by Boko Haram all told Amnesty International that sexual violence and rape of abducted women was strictly forbidden under Sharia law implemented by Boko Haram.

However, various women interviewed by Amnesty International reported that Boko Haram members raped them secretly at night or in the bush. Others were raped by their new "husbands" after they were forced to marry Boko Haram members in the camp.

It is difficult to document cases of sexual violence because of the stigma and trauma suffered by the women.

A human rights activist who interviewed more than 80 abducted women and girls after their escape from Boko Haram said that in 23 cases, Boko Haram fighters had raped them, either before arrival in the camp or after forced marriage. The majority of the women and girls reported that they were beaten.

Aisha Yusuf, a 19-year-old woman who was abducted in September 2014, said she was on several occasions raped by Boko Haram fighters while she was in their camp. "I was raped several times when I was in the camp. Sometimes 5 of them. Sometimes 3, sometimes 6. It went on for all the time I was there. It always happened in the night... Some were even my classmates or from my village. Those who knew me were even more brutal to me."

Hamidah Tijani, a 48-year-old woman who was not allowed to leave her home town of Gamborou for five months while it was under the control of Boko Haram, explained to Amnesty International that Boko Haram members regularly raped women in her community after taking control of the town in Sepember 2014.

She told Amnesty International that Boko Haram fighters frequently came to her house to rape one of her lodgers, a woman in her late twenties who was living there. The woman was married and had two children. Her husband was not in Gamborou when Boko Haram attacked, but she had her children with her.

Hamidah Tijani said: "Boko Haram fighters were coming openly to the house. Always to go to her. Sometime she is crying and said maybe my children are seeing what is happening. I think she may become pregnant. Sometimes we see condoms in our toilet, but many are not using. There is HIV, maybe it will become rampant. She can't leave because when she leaves the Boko Haram will know, because her children are with her."

Several women and men who spent time in Boko Haram camps told Amnesty International that abducted girls were married off - even those who were already married with children.

Mary, a 33-year-old woman from Gava who spent weeks in a Boko Haram camp, told Amnesty International: "I witnessed many marriages in the camp. They even paid the bride price for the women. Everything went through the Amir in the base."

Ahmed Zana, a farmer and resident from Malari, told Amnesty International that Boko Haram had a camp nearby his village and came to the village often. They had recruited members and married girls from Malari: "When they want to marry, they request to you and bring gifts to you. Three girls [from the village] were married. They provide you with money. They always force you. We felt we couldn't say no."

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