At least 2000 women have been abducted by Boko Haram, detained in
prisons and houses and subjected to forced marriage, stonings and sexual
slavery, according to a report that berates Nigeria’s “dismal” security
The Amnesty International report – based on more than
150 witness accounts – charges the Islamic militants with the deaths of
more than 5500 civilians and paints the most detailed picture yet of
the oppression inflicted upon young women.
walk past a check point manned by Nigerian soldiers in Gwoza, Nigeria, a
town newly liberated from Boko Haram. Photo / AP
The Islamic militant
group should be brought to justice over war crimes such as “rapes,
sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence”, according to the
Amnesty study, published today – a year after the group abducted 276
schoolgirls from a secondary school in Chibok.
Soon after taking
control of a town, militants implemented restrictions of movement,
particularly on women, the report says. Failure to attend daily prayers
was punishable by public flogging.
“Although rape was banned in territories under Boko Haram
control, women and girls were also raped in secret outside forced
marriages,” the report says. “Abducted men and boys were forced to
provide services for Boko Haram or to join them as fighters.”
President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, has vowed to drive the Islamic
insurgency out of his country, which has seen its north-eastern region
and borders with Chad, Cameroon and Niger destabilised over the past six
Bama, 40 miles east of the capital of Borno state,
Maiduguri, was recaptured by Nigerian forces in March after a protracted
battle in partnership with Chad and Niger. Satellite images show
catastrophic devastation wreaked by Boko Haram. Most of the town was
destroyed by retreating fighters who killed thousands of civilians.
Saleh, 15, lived in the region for six months. He said that jihadists
detained more than 200 women, keeping them in prisons or large houses
under armed guard.
“Women who tried to escape were kept in one
part, men are kept in the second and the third – it was very horrible,”
he told Amnesty. “You will see they [Boko Haram] killed them all. Where
the well is, it is full of the dead bodies. If you go inside the cell,
there are dead bodies on the floor. Everywhere is smelling .There were
more than 200 dead in the cell and in the well was full of bodies.”
woman who spent five months under Boko Haram rule in the village of
Gamboru, in Borno state, described how she saw a woman given 30 lashes
for selling children’s clothes and a couple executed publicly for
adultery. “They stone them to death on Fridays. They will gather all the
children and ask them to stone. I participated in the stoning,” said a
15-year-old boy from Bama.
“They will dig a hole, bury all the
body and stone the head. When the person dies, they will leave the
stones until the body decays.”
Amnesty International’s secretary
general, Salil Shetty, said: “Men and women, boys and girls, Christians
and Muslims have been killed, abducted and brutalised by Boko Haram
during a reign of terror which has affected millions.
military successes might spell the beginning of the end for Boko Haram,
but there is a huge amount to be done to protect civilians and resolve
the humanitarian crisis.”