It is exactly a year since the almost 200 Chibok girls were kidnapped by the terrorist group, Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Borno State of Nigeria.
In a report by Amnesty International to mark the first anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok girls, at least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014 and many have been forced into sexual slavery and trained to fight.
The kidnapping, and a video showing the captured girls dressed in dark hijabs soon afterwards, provoked international outrage. But the majority are still missing despite Western pledges to help track them down and a Chadian attempt to broker their release.
Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, claims the girls had been “married off” to his fighters.
Amnesty’s report said that Boko Haram, meaning Western education is sinful in Hausa, routinely rounded up women and girls after taking control of a town and held them in houses or prisons.
A 19-year-old woman told Amnesty how she had been abducted at a wedding in September 2014 alongside the bride and the bride’s sister and then held at a training camp in Madagali alongside hundreds of female fighters.
“I was among the girls trained to shoot. I was also trained how to use bombs and how to attack a village,” said the woman, who was gang-raped several times by the guerrillas and wished to remain anonymous. She told Amnesty some of those who refused to covert to Islam or to fight were dumped in a mass grave.
Many men who refuse to join Boko Haram’s ranks have also been killed. Two young men told researchers that at least 100 were executed in one day in December when the armed group took over Madagali. They survived because the killers’ knives had become too blunt to slit more throats.
Amnesty International is calling on Boko Haram to stop killing civilians and for the Nigerian government to take all possible legal steps to ensure their protection and restore security in the north-east. The international community should also continue to assist the new government of Nigeria in addressing the threat posed by Boko Haram.
“The change of government in Nigeria provides an opportunity for a new approach to security in Nigeria after the dismal failure of recent years,” said Salil Shetty.
“The abducted must be rescued, war crimes and crimes against humanity must be investigated. Bodies must be disinterred from mass graves, further killings must be prevented and those guilty of inflicting this unspeakable suffering must be brought to justice.”