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Boko Haram survivors give shocking accounts of their ordeal

He soon began to threaten me with a knife
to have sex with him and when I refused, he brought out his gun,
warning that he would kill me if I shouted.
“Then
he   began to rape me every night … I had never had sex before; it was
very painful and I cried bitterly because I was bleeding afterwards.”
These
were the words of a 15-year-old girl, who was abducted by Boko Haram
and forcibly married to one of its commanders in a camp in the Sambisa
Forest, Borno State.
Boko Haram survivor, Deborah Peters
The girl, according to a report by Human Rights Watch, was abducted in 2013 but she escaped after four weeks in captivity.

The
teenager is one of the five girls that personally recounted their
ordeals in the publication which was made public on Monday. She said
that after her marriage to the commander who was in his early 30s, she
was ordered to live with him in cave.
The
experiences of three others who   suffered sexual violence were
narrated by witnesses in the 63-page HRW report titled, Those Terrible
Weeks in Their Camp: Boko Haram Violence against Women and Girls in
North-East Nigeria.’
The publication
provides details of how hundreds of girls and women aged between 15 and
22 were being made to suffer other forms of abuses and used for
ambushes.
The HRW said in the report
that it spoke to 47 witnesses and victims, including some of the Chibok
schoolgirls kidnapped from their hostel in April this year.
The group also described how some of the Christian abductees were ordered to convert to Islam or be executed.
It
claimed that four of the eight sexual assaults it recorded occurred
after the girls and women were forced to marry   Boko Haram combatants.
According
to the HRW, before “marriage,” the commanders appeared to make some
efforts to protect the women and girls from sexual assault.
It
said that in two cases, the insurgents   took advantage of the absence
of a commander and sexually abused abductees who had yet to be
“married.”
An 18-year-old victim also described how an insurgent sexually abused her when she went to use the bathroom.
She
said, “I did not know he followed me when I walked a short distance
away from the tree under which we slept. He grabbed me from behind,
roughly fondling me while trying to take off his pants. I screamed in
fright and he hurriedly left me as I continued to shout for help.”
Another
woman, who was raped in 2013 in one of the militants’ camps near Gwoza,
described how a commander’s wife seemed to encourage the crime.
“I
was lying down in the cave pretending to be ill because I did not want
the marriage the commander planned to conduct for me with another
insurgent on his return from the Sambisa camp. When the insurgent who
had paid my dowry came in to force himself on me, the commander’s wife
blocked the cave entrance and watched as the man raped me.”
Another
woman aged 19,   who was married and had children, described how she
and one other woman were raped after having been abducted   in April
2014.
She said, “When we arrived at
the camp, they left us under a tree. I managed to sleep. I was exhausted
and afraid. Late in the night, two insurgents woke me and another
woman, saying their leader wanted to see us.
“We
had no choice but to follow them; but as soon as we moved deep into the
bush, one of them dragged me away, while his partner took the other
woman to another direction.
“I guessed
what they had in mind and I began to cry. I begged him, telling him I
was a married woman. He ignored my pleas, flung me on the ground, and
raped me. I could not tell anyone what happened, not even my husband.
“I
still feel so ashamed and cheated. The other woman told me she was also
raped but vowed never to speak of it   as she was single and believes
that news of her rape would foreclose her chances of marriage.”
The
HRW had previously documented the widespread abuses carried out by the
Nigerian security forces in responding to the attacks by Boko Haram.
However,
the rights organisation asserted that few members of the security
forces implicated in “serious violations of humanitarian and human
rights law, including violations against girls and women, have been
prosecuted.”
It advised that “to
ensure accountability, Nigerian authorities should investigate and
prosecute, based on international fair trial standards, those who
committed serious crimes in violation of national and international laws
during the conflict, including members of Boko Haram, security forces,
and pro-government vigilante groups.”
The
group said that “in addition, the government should provide adequate
measures to protect schools and the right to education, and ensure
access to medical and mental health services to victims of abduction and
other violence.
“The government
should also ensure that hospitals and clinics treating civilian victims
are equipped with medical supplies to treat survivors of sexual and
gender-based violence.”
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