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Boko Haram Subjects Young Women to Suicide

Boko Haram strapped suicide bombs onto 18 teenage girls and sent them into a crowd. The girls feared for their lives because they didn’t know how to get them off. They were prepared for death, yet they received the surprise of their lifetimes – they lived. Each girl managed to survive in their own way, and many of them survived because of the help of nearby citizens or authorities. For example, one girl persuaded local soldiers to remove the explosives strapped around her body.

“I really didn’t expect to survive. I thought I only had minutes to live,” confessed one of the girls, named Maryam.

Boko Haram was originally known as the “Nigerian Taliban” because the group bears many similarities to the Taliban. Boko Haram doesn’t adhere to Nigeria’s political system; instead, it adheres to fundamentalist Islamic beliefs that are based on Sharia law. BBC News reports that activities forbidden for women by Sharia law include voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers, and  receiving a secular education.

 According to CNN, Boko Haram means “Western Education is Forbidden” in the local Hausa dialect. The group sometimes calls itself “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad,” which means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.” Boko Haram members mainly live in the northern Nigerian states, such as Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno, and Kaduna.

Boko Haram was one of four groups responsible for 74 percent of all deaths from terrorism in 2015, according to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index. In fact, 5 of Boko Haram’s attacks are on the list of the 20 most fatal terrorist attacks in 2015. The index describes how Boko Haram primarily targets public areas and uses women and children as bombers.

A CNN timeline indicates that the group first attacked multiple police stations in Yobe. Its next big attack was the Boko Haram Uprising in Bauchi. The group later attacked and kidnapped several young girls and women. Since then, some of these girls were found by the Nigerian army and some of these victims were released by Boko Haram.

Many of these young women are often forced into marriage and raped by the group. There are many people who are working with the campaign to Bring Back Our Girls, but there is still much work to be done.

The Washington Post reports that the United States officially deemed Boko Haram a terrorist group in 2013 and linked it to Al Qaeda.

“Boko Haram is a Nigeria-based militant group with links to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that is responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria over the last several years including targeted killings of civilians,” the US State Department said.

According to Unicef’s Beyond Chibok report, over 2.3 million people have been displaced since May of 2013. The number of displaced children has increased by 60 percent in just one year, making the Boko Haram insurgency one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa.

“In Northeast Nigeria and increasingly in neighbouring countries, children are killed, maimed, abducted and recruited to armed groups. They are exposed to sexual violence, schools are attacked and humanitarian access is limited,” Unicef’s report states.

These acts of terror caused nutrition and education crises. In addition, the report indicates nearly one in five suicide bombers are children, and 75 percent of these bombers are girls. Nigeria alone has 1.9 million suicide bombers.

These suicide bombings force young women to do something unthinkable – sacrifice their own lives. Although some girls have escaped this bondage, other women and girls still suffer and fight for survival today.

Featured Image by Tim Green on Flickr

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