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Boko Haram's Victims in Nigeria Detail Their Abuse in New Report

Hundreds of girls captured by Nigeria's Islamist sect Boko Haram have been subjected to rape, forced labor and coerced participation in ambushes.

Hundreds of schoolgirls captured by Nigeria's Islamist sect Boko Haram have been subjected to rape, forced marriage and coerced participation in ambushes, according to a harrowing new report published Monday. The investigation by Human Rights Watch sheds fresh light on abuses endured by women in Boko Haram camps in the forests of northeast Nigeria. HRW spoke to 47 witnesses and victims, including some of the 276 girls kidnapped in April that sparked the international #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

The 63-page report, entitled "'Those Terrible Weeks in Their Camp': Boko Haram Violence against Women and Girls in Northeast Nigeria," is one of the most detailed to document the experiences of the group’s female captives. Victims and witnesses described forced marriages and, if they were Christian, orders to convert to Islam or be executed. A 15-year-old spoke of how she was forced to marry a militant and "ordered to live in his cave."

"He soon began to threaten me with a knife to have sex with him, and when I still refused he brought out his gun, warning that he would kill me if I shouted," she told HRW. She said the "huge man in his mid-30s" raped her every night.

One 19-year-old who was held in several Boko Haram camps in 2013 told the organization she was forced to lure five members of Nigeria's security forces into a trap. "When they followed me for a short distance the insurgents swooped on them," the girl told HRW. The militants "slit the throats of four of them as they shouted 'Allahu Akbar,'" she said, adding: "Then I was handed a knife to kill the last man. I was shaking with horror and couldn’t do it. The camp leader’s wife took the knife and killed him."

Claims by sections of Nigeria’s government that it had reached a deal to free the girls kidnapped in Chibok have been undermined by reports in the past week of further kidnappings and killings attributed to Boko Haram.


- Alexander Smith