Surviving Boko Haram: From One Nightmare to Another
The literal meaning of Boko Haram is ‘Western education is a sin’. Boko Haram is a militant Islamist group, operating in Nigeria. It rejects Western culture and secular education and calls for Islamic rule. In April 2004, Boko Haram abducted 276 Chibok girls from a school, of which around 100 were freed after negotiations, some managed to escape, while 112 of them remain hostage to this day.
"I don't see anything changing ... we keep demanding accountability and we're not seeing it. Schools cannot be safe when you allow insurgents, when you allow terrorists to keep shifting the goalposts," Manasseh, the media and publicity head of the Chibok community stated in an interview.
Over the years, more than 1000 children have been abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Of the girls who managed to escape, most are forced to live in camps as they are no longer accepted by their families and are referred to as “Boko Haram women”. Some of these women also have children with men of Boko Haram, another reason why their families refuse to accept them back. The women in these camps live in poor economic conditions, where they struggle to make ends meet.
Regarding their acceptance back in society, Fatima, a woman who escaped Boko Haram and currently lives in a camp said,
"If we were welcomes back with open arms, and if they showed us they understood our pain, then one day we could leave this all in the past."
The silver lining for most of these women is that their children are gaining education in schools that are situated in these camps. They see education as an act of revenge against Boko Haram. They place emphasis on education as they fear that not educating their children makes them an easy target for recruitment into Boko Haram.