Islamist militants from the Boko Haram terror group are instructing their teenage recruits how to sexually assault women as part of their training, both as a means of terror and an incentive for the young militants.
As part of their formation program, the Nigeria-based Jihadi leaders rape women and young girls captured during raids in front of the boys as a visual lesson in how to subdue a struggling victim during sexual assault, according to reports.
One 15-year-old boy known only as Ahmed said that the girls “scream and cry for help,” but the militants don’t care. “Sometimes they’ll be slapped and threatened with guns if they didn’t cooperate,” he said.
According to Ahmed, the jihadists accompany their demonstrations with specific instructions on how to carry out a rape.
“They tell us to remember to hold the girl tight on both hands, pinned to the floor,” he said. “They said we shouldn’t let a woman overpower us.”
The young soldier said that before one attack, his superiors told the militants to capture as many women as they could, promising that they would be allowed to “have fun” when they returned to their base.
“At first I didn’t understand what they meant by ‘you are going to have fun’ and nobody thought to explain,” said Ahmed. This was before his training in sexual assault.
According to Ahmed, encouraging young militants to have sex with captives is a relatively new tactic, since previously, the leaders forbade teenage soldiers from doing so, saying that women belonged to men and not boys.
The change in policy reportedly reflects a need to incentivize younger soldiers, especially now that a significant number of senior fighters have been killed off by the Nigerian military.
Adding insult to injury, a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) released in October documented how many girls who had survived assaults by Boko Haram, then suffered sexual violence at the hands of officials at refugee camps in northern Nigeria.
In its study, HRW found that rape, sexual harassment, inducement into sexual activity by promising food, and other such violence against the victims of Boko Haram were shockingly regular occurrences among internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps.
Members of the NGO interviewed 43 women and girls willing to discuss their experience of “sexual abuse, including rape, and exploitation” at the camp. Many of these accused an array of soldiers, police, and militia leaders of sexual violence.
Many of the African girls and women who eventually return home after escaping Boko Haram are stigmatized by their own communities because of the sexual violence they suffered.
These women are sometimes labeled as “Boko Haram wives” or even “epidemics” and lack organized services to help them recover from their experiences and reintegrate into their communities.
A branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
— Boko Haram, referred to by themselves as al-Wilāyat al-Islāmiyya Gharb Afrīqiyyah (Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP), and Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād (“Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad”), is an Islamic extremist group based in northeastern Nigeria, also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. The group was led by Abubakar Shekau until August 2016, when he was succeeded by Abu Musab al-Barnawi. The group had alleged links to al-Qaeda, but in March 2015, it announced its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Since the current insurgency started in 2009, it has killed 20,000 and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was ranked as the world’s deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015.
— After its founding in 2002, Boko Haram’s increasing radicalization led to a violent uprising in July 2009 in which its leader was summarily executed. Its unexpected resurgence, following a mass prison break in September 2010, was accompanied by increasingly sophisticated attacks, initially against soft targets, and progressing in 2011 to include suicide bombings of police buildings and the United Nations office in Abuja. The government’s establishment of a state of emergency at the beginning of 2012, extended in the following year to cover the entire northeast of Nigeria, led to an increase in both security force abuses and militant attacks.
— Of the 2.3 million people displaced by the conflict since May 2013, at least 250,000 have left Nigeria and fled into Cameroon, Chad or Niger. Boko Haram killed over 6,600 in 2014. The group have carried out mass abductions including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in April 2014. Corruption in the security services and human rights abuses committed by them have hampered efforts to counter the unrest.
— In mid-2014, the militants gained control of swathes of territory in and around their home state of Borno, estimated at 50,000 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi) in January 2015, but did not capture the state capital, Maiduguri, where the group was originally based. In September 2015, the Director of Information at the Defence Headquarters of Nigeria announced that all Boko Haram camps had been destroyed.