- The disappearance of a former Boko Haram bride has stoked concern
- The bride recently returned home after three years in the insurgents' stronghold
- She was among 70 women and children the government radicalized and reintegrated into the society
A report from Thomson Reuters Foundation indicates that a former Boko Haram bride who recently returned home after three years in the insurgents’ stronghold has disappeared.
25-year old Aisha's disappearance stoked concern about the difficulty of deradicalising and reintegrating women seized by the jihadists.
Aisha, a wife of a Boko Haram commander, was among 70 women and children who finished a nine-month deradicalisation programme in February, having being captured by the army in a raid on the militants’ Sambisa forest base last year.
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Last month Aisha vanished from her family home in Borno’s state capital, Maiduguri, taking the baby boy fathered by her Boko Haram husband and some of her clothes, according to her younger sister Bintu Yerima.
“Before she left … she had received a phone call from a woman who was with her (in the programme). The woman said that she had returned to the Sambisa forest,” 22-year-old Yerima told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Maiduguri.
Phone calls to Aisha after she disappeared went unanswered, and her mobile has since been switched off, her sister added.
A psychologist, Fatima Akilu who was among those deradicalising the women said she had heard that some of the women who were under her care, including Aisha, had gone back to Boko Haram.
“Rehabilitation, reintegration is a long process … complicated by the fact we have an active, ongoing insurgency.
“When you have fathers, husbands, sons and brothers who are still in the movement, they (the women) want to be reunited … to go back to a place where they feel they belong,” she said.
Aisha told the Thomson Reuters Foundation earlier this year that other women kidnapped by Boko Haram were given to her as “slaves” because she was married to leading militant Mamman Nur.
Moved by the power, and disenchanted with the domestic drudgery of their everyday lives, women are far more difficult than men to deradicalise and reintegrate into their communities, said Akilu.
Her words: “Women often come out successful from deradicalisation programmes, but they struggle in the community. Some face a lot of stigma. They feel like pariahs.”
Many Nigerians fear women abducted by Boko Haram have been radicalised and may recruit others or commit violence once they return home, and that their children born of abuse may have been tainted by the “bad blood” of the militants, according to a 2016 report by charity International Alert and the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF).
The allegation was made by residents in Ali dawari in the Jere area of Maidugiri, the Borno state capital.
Media reports quoted the villagers as saying the soldiers burnt and looted their properties after battling with the insurgents.
Watch a video report of the recently released Chibok girls by Boko Haram on NAIJ.com TV below: