Girls abducted by Boko Haram recall horrors of rape, forced marriages

World Today

As negotiations with Boko Haram continue, a new Human Rights Watch report details the stories of abductees. The rights group has interviewed survivors willing to speak out about their ordeal. CCTV America’s Maria Galang reports.

Girls abducted by Boko Haram recall horrors of rape, forced marriages

As negotiations with Boko Haram continue, a new Human Rights Watch report details the stories of abductees. The rights group has interviewed survivors willing to speak out about their ordeal. CCTV America's Maria Galang reports.

Women and girls kidnapped by the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram are raped, converted to Islam, and forced to marry fighters even if they are underage, according to testimonies from women who have escaped the group. The tales they tell are harrowing.

“I was at home packing food when we heard gunshots. We ran into them as we tried to escape. They surrounded us and asked us where we were going. They said, ‘Since we’ve caught you, we are going to convert you to Islam’,” an unidentified Boko Haram victim said.

Another victim shared her story of how Muslims and Christians are treated under Boko Haram.

“They told the Muslims to stand to one side, and the four of us Christians to the other. They released the Muslims but kept us,” she said.

What followed was assault and rape. “I kept pleading for him to leave me alone because I had my baby but he refused to listen, and told me to put my baby down,” one said. “So I put her down.”

Human Rights Watch has interviewed hundreds of people abducted by the militant group.

“When they wanted me to kill the first man, my body was shaking and I fell down on the ground. They forced me to get up and watch as they killed the second person. At that point, I was thinking I should grab a gun from the insurgents and kill myself since they had taught us to how to shoot,” another victim recalled.

The Nigerian government said it is in talks with Boko Haram over the release of hundreds of schoolgirls. But with the new kidnappings and violence, many are questioning a cease-fire announced last week. What is clear is that should the kidnapped girls be returned home, their stories will likely be equally disturbing.

New York-based Human Rights Watch estimates that the militant group has abducted about 500 women and girls from Northern Nigeria since 2009. Earlier this year Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school in the town of Chibok in the northeast of the country.