Newspaper article International New York Times

Rescued Nigerian Women Face Rejection Back Home ; Report Says Communities Fear Boko Haram Might Have Radicalized Captives

Newspaper article International New York Times

Rescued Nigerian Women Face Rejection Back Home ; Report Says Communities Fear Boko Haram Might Have Radicalized Captives

Article excerpt

Community members worry that the women and girls, many of whom were raped, have been radicalized and might try to recruit for the militant group.

A new crisis is emerging as the Nigerian military liberates droves of women and girls from their Boko Haram captors: Many of the newly freed are being rejected when they return to their communities, according to a report.

The women and girls, many of whom were raped by militants, have been labeled "Boko Haram wives" or "annoba," a Hausa term that means epidemics, according to the report released Tuesday by International Alert, a peace-building group, and Unicef.

Some community members worry that they have been radicalized by Boko Haram and might try to recruit others to fight with the militant group, which has been terrorizing northern Nigeria for years.

"There is a fear that if the needs of these survivors and returning populations are not met, these factors could add another dimension to an already complex conflict situation in northeast Nigeria," said Kimairis Toogood, an adviser for International Alert in Nigeria.

As many as 2,000 women and children, both girls and boys, have been abducted by Boko Haram since 2012, according to the report. That includes the more than 200 girls taken from their secondary school in Chibok in 2014 in an episode that attracted huge social media attention with a #BringBackOurGirls campaign, which ultimately had little impact.

The Nigerian government conceded recently that it still does not know the girls' whereabouts.

Some of the women who have been released are pregnant or have given birth to children whose fathers are Boko Haram fighters. Community members told researchers that the children had "bad blood" transmitted from their fathers. Even some of the released women were uncertain about their own children.

According to the report, one pregnant woman said, "When I think of the baby that will come, it disturbs me a lot because I always ask myself this question: Will the child also behave like JAS?" JAS is another name for Boko Haram.

In one area, a community leader described the children of Boko Haram fighters as "hyenas among dogs," the report said. …

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