Though it was the Chibok abductions that first brought to light Boko Haram’s practice of kidnapping, the group began making such threats in 2012.
In a video released in January of that year, Abubakar Shekau, the group’s leader, threatened “to kidnap the wives of government officials in response to the government imprisoning the wives of Boko Haram members.” In a video released in September 2012, he taunted viewers: “Since you are now holding our women …
These abductions rebut the Nigerian government’s repeated claims that it has defeated Boko Haram.
The Chibok abductions, which spurred the #Bring Back Our Girls campaign, thrust the fight against Boko Haram into the global spotlight and brought in billions of dollars in military assistance from Western donors to address the conflict in the Chad Basin.
Women “occupy themselves with household duties and child care,” and are free “from the backbreaking labour of agricultural work and the fetching of firewood and water that occupies most women in rural northeast Nigeria,” anthropologist Scott Mac Eachern writes in the Globe and Mail.Nagajaran, for instance, notes that women in the group engage in active fighting, help the group recruit new members, socialize new women and girls into the group, make bombs and serve as suicide bombers.Though the plight of the girls abducted by Boko Haram is wrenching and attention-grabbing, the disproportionate media attention these events receive obscures similar violence against men and boys in the region and distorts our understanding of what roles women and girls play in the conflict.In the Dapchi and Chibok abductions, insurgents seized scores of schoolgirls.Their families were subjected to an array of conflicting statements and harassment from the government, which eventually confirmed that, yes, the girls had been abducted.Many women have been victims of the insurgency, while some have been complicit in the group’s terrorism.Global attention to the abductions of Nigeria’s schoolgirls hopefully can give rise to a broader conversation about the variety of roles that women play in Boko Haram.[ Locals call Boko Haram ‘slave raiders.’ Here’s what that means, and why it matters.] According to Mac Eachern, the practice has long historical roots in the region, dating to before the 19th century, and now has strong class connotations.Others reported that they joined for money: When they married a Boko Haram fighter, they received their bride price directly, rather than see it paid to their families.A bride price is the money and goods a future husband provides to a woman’s family, which is generally necessary for the marriage to take place.