Nigeria’s army says that it has rescued a second Chibok schoolgirl, two days after rescuing Amina Ali Nkeki, 19, the first of the 219 kidnapped girls to be found alive.
“We are glad to state that among those rescued is a girl believed to be one of the Chibok Government Secondary School girls that were abducted on 14 April 2014 by the Boko Haram terrorists,” said a statement issued by Acting Director of Public Relations, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman.
Serah Luka is believed to be the daughter of a pastor, says the statement, and is currently receiving medical attention at the medical facility of Abogo Largema Cantonment in Biu, Borno state.
But parents of the kidnapped Chibok girls and the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group have not been able to confirm the information.
Some 97 women and children held captive by Boko Haram were also rescued during the operation, near Shettima Aboh in the Damboa Local Government Area of Borno. Recent military operations by Nigerian forces have led to territorial gains and paved the way for reconstruction efforts.
But for hundreds of women and girls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants, their ordeal did not end when they escaped, nor when Nigerian soldiers rescued them and reunited them with their families.
Instead of being admired for their bravery, many have become outcasts in their communities, stigmatised due to their perceived association with Boko Haram, reports humanitarian news agency IRIN.
Moreover, others – pregnant after rape by their captors – have been “shamed and are now accused of spawning or seeking to spawn future Boko Haram fighters,” continues IRIN.
This bodes ill for the Chibok girls. One recent Christian returnee, Tabitha, told The Nation she had met some of them in her camp and that many have become Boko Haram fighters.
This all backs up Angelina Jolie’s message of “rape as a ‘policy’ aimed at terrorising and destroying communities”. It’s a message she first spoke about at the UK Parliament in June 2014 and repeated at the House of Lords in September 2015.
“[Islamist groups such as] Islamic State are dictating [it] as policy … beyond what we have seen before,” said Jolie, a UN Special Envoy. The Hollywood actress said the groups know “it is a very effective weapon and they are using it as a centre point of their terror and their way of destroying communities and families, and attacking and dehumanising.”
Jolie shared stories of girls she had met in war zones, who had been repeatedly raped and sold for as little as $40. In 2014, she co-hosted a global summit in London, attended by representatives from more than 100 countries, aimed at raising awareness and tackling the issue of sexual violence in conflict, especially rape as a weapon of war.
Meanwhile, the report, Our Bodies, Their Battleground: Boko Haram and Gender-Based Violence against Christian women and children in North-Eastern Nigeria since 1999, sheds light on Boko Haram’s ultra-Salafist ideology, which promotes the use of rape as a weapon.
It reveals how tremendously effective and efficient it is to focus attacks on women and girls – because the knock-on effects are devastating to the community. Entire families and Christian communities are thus “dishonoured”, regularly leading husbands to reject wives who are victims of rape, and embarrassment and shame for their children.
The fact that Christian women and children suffer at the hands of Boko Haram is a carefully calculated part of the movement’s multi-pronged front-line offensive, designed to intimidate the population into accepting political-religious change, points out the report.
The use of rape was also justified by Boko Haram militants on the basis of “sex as jizya“, a reference to a tax that early Islamic rulers demanded from their non-Muslim subjects for their own protection.