Abuja - More than 20 schoolgirls released by the Boko Haram terror group northeast of Nigeria recently face deep stigma and mistrust from their own communities for fear they could have been radicalised in captivity.
Distrusting communities fear the girls'children born of sexual violence are ‘tainted’ by the 'bad blood' of terrorists.
The use of women and girls in so-called suicide attacks has fuelled this fear. At least 21 girls, coincidentally the same number released by the Boko Haram last week, were used in this way in 2015 alone. In 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok.
“Tragically, the ordeal does not end when these girls and women escape or are rescued,” said Kimairis Toogood, Senior Advisor for International Alert in Nigeria.
“Many face rejection, and even violence, from their own families and communities due to stigma around sexual violence - especially if they return with a baby. This makes re-integration extremely difficult.”
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Several of the girls released by the terrorists in Chibok in the Borno State are now mothers.
Experts said many are traumatised and require both immediate and long-term medical, psychological and social assistance.
International Alert, the non-governmental organisation, has organised workshops to support the process of long-term reintegration.
This includes not only providing collective therapy for survivors, but also working with communities and family members to foster empathy for and reduce stigma towards those who return.
“We have found that with the right package of support, reintegration is possible,” Toogood said.
- CAJ News