Amnesty Int’l: How Girls Who Fled Boko Haram Captivity Met ‘Surrendered Husbands’ In Govt Camps

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Human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has released an investigative report detailing the plight of Boko Haram victims in the North East.

The report, titled, ‘Help us build our lives’: Girl survivors of Boko Haram and military abuses in north-east Nigeria’, captured experiences of how girls who escaped Boko Haram captivity were “reunited” with their surrendered “husbands” in government-owned facilities.

The organisation said the report is based on at least 126 interviews, including 82 with survivors, that were conducted between 2019 and 2024.

It revealed how girls survived trafficking and crimes against humanity by Boko Haram, including abduction, forced marriage, enslavement, and sexual violence.

Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said: “These girls, many of them now young women, had their childhood stolen from them and suffered a litany of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses. They are now showing remarkable bravery as they seek to take control of their future.

“An enormous number of girls suffered horrific abuse in Boko Haram captivity, with many survivors then detained or neglected by their government. Now, they are sending a clear message to the Nigerian government and its international partners. They urgently need increased specialist support to rebuild their lives.”

The report added: “Girls were used in a multitude of ways as ‘wives’, including being made to serve their ‘husbands’ in sexual slavery and domestic servitude. At least 33 survivors of forced marriage told Amnesty International that their ‘husbands’ raped them.

“HA* was a teenager when she ‘agreed’ to be married to save her father from being killed. She told Amnesty International she was beaten when she refused her ‘husband’, and that he frequently raped her.

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“All those abducted were threatened into living under strict rules with severely limited freedom of movement. Any real or perceived breaches of these rules were met with physical punishment and, at times, prolonged periods of imprisonment.

“Boko Haram meted out punishments publicly to instill fear and exert control. At least 31 girls interviewed were forced to watch forms of punishment that included lashings, amputations and beheadings.”

GH, now in her early 20s, spent around a decade in captivity. She was often forced to watch violent punishments, and said: “Sometimes I dream about the corpses that I saw or the stoning of the women that I saw. Once I open my eyes, I can’t go back to sleep again.”

A total of 28 interviewees said they bore children of sexual violence, and at least 20 were children themselves when they gave birth

In April, Amnesty International wrote to the federal and state government, as well as to UN offices, with its main research findings.

In its response, the military denied all allegations, saying it upholds human rights in its operations, and referred to Amnesty International’s “sources”, as “intrinsically unreliable”.

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