Boko Haram and the History of Child Rape in Jihad

On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram, (whose name either means “Western education is forbidden” or “a colonialist fraud being perpetrated against us”), captured three hundred Christian and Muslim Nigerian schoolgirls to become their sex and domestic slaves. The Muslim fundamentalists swooped down upon them as they were learning in a “forbidden” government secular school. Some girls managed to escape. Two hundred and seventy six girls are still missing.

The world media calls this a “kidnapping” in Nigeria. It is not a “kidnapping.” It is the face of Jihad, the way of Jihad. Boko Haram are not holding these girls for ransom, they are not willing to return them for money. They already view the girls as their God-given booty, and as sale-able property.

The girls are between the ages of twelve and fifteen. The Christian girls will be raped, converted to Islam, and then, like the Muslims girls, “married” to one of their captors. Some will be trafficked into the sex trade, which is pandemic throughout Africa and the Muslim Middle East. Sharia law allows men to purchase the sexual favors of a female child or a young woman for one hour, a week, or a month. Private and public brothels exist as well.

Please understand: Boko Haram are the Nigerian Taliban. Like their Pakistani and Afghan counterparts, they oppose education for girls and would rather marry and impregnate them instead--for Allah’s sake.

This behavior is absolutely par for the course in Islamic history. Anyone who is surprised or shocked by this latest outrage in Nigeria simply does not know the facts.

Boko Haram’s behavior is typical of any armed Muslim force beginning in Mohammed’s time. The Prophet’s warriors went on raids and systematically massacred the Jewish tribes in Arabia. The men who refused to convert were beheaded--and then the Prophet divided the women, children, houses, and chattels among the Muslims. The women were forcibly converted and kept as “wives” or slaves.

Thereafter, Muslim warriors in search of power, land, and gold, did much the same thing.

Contrary to the politically correct intelligentsia, who focus only on Western sins, Islam also has a long and ongoing history of imperialism, colonialism, conversion by the sword, sex slavery, (of both boys and girls), polygamy, sex trafficking, and the brutal subordination and cyclical massacres of religious minorities.  

Westerners either do not know this, do not want to know this, don’t care all that much, or misunderstand this.

Some, including journalists, still believe that Boko Haram and other such groups are crying out against injustice and poverty, against government corruption and ineptitude--all of which exist.

But that is not Boko Haram’s major concern. They want to assert an Islamic state in Nigeria, similar to that which exists in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, and now, Brunei. These Muslim extremists, both Sunni and Shiia, want Sharia law to dominate public and private life. This means that the state will have the power to stone people to death for adultery and apostasy, to amputate for theft, to lash and jail for “blasphemy,” to tax and hold hostage, jail, murder, or exile infidels.

Oh, yes--male polygamy will be legal, marriage will be forced, women will be veiled, normatively beaten and raped without recourse, honor killed for the slightest perceived disobedience. Women are breeders and housekeepers--an education would ruin them.

Nevertheless, for the first time, the world is mobilized, we have a “teachable moment.” Petitions have been signed, tweets tweeted, articles written, offers of military support tendered. I have remained silent because I have not liked how many in the media have jumped on this latest example of barbarism to plead their own special cause.

The capture of girls is horrifying but, they say, let’s remember that Boko Haram and other groups like them have also persecuted religious minorities in the Muslim and Arab world; let’s not forget that there are so many moderate Muslims who believe in women’s rights and the Western enterprise; let’s remember that this is just one more face of Jihad against the West, etc. All true--but this all takes the focus away from the way in which historical Islam views and treats women.  

In 1971, hundreds of thousands of women were raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Pakistani Muslim soldiers publicly and repeatedly gang-raped and tortured Muslim (future Bangladeshi) women. These women became known as “Birangona,” or “brave women.” At the time, many killed themselves or, if pregnant, their families killed them in honor killings. Forty years later, those who survived are still traumatized and shamed by what was done to them. Many were humiliated by their relatives, rejected by their husbands.

At the time, the West paid no attention.

From 1992 on, Islamic paramilitary troops enslaved young Muslim girls in Algeria both sexually and domestically; they just grabbed them off the streets. If they tried to escape, they would be shot dead; the same was true when they became pregnant. Their names are lost in history.

At the time, the West paid no attention.

And then there was 2004, in Sudan, a long and ugly war, in which ethnic Arab Muslims engaged in what I call “gender cleansing” when they publicly and repeatedly gang-raped mainly Black African Muslim, Christian, and animist women. I was approached for advice and suggested setting up Women’s Talking Tents where the raped girls and women could come and speak their pain, see they were not alone, learn that it was not their fault.

And Western governments did nothing.

I wonder what will happen to those poor Nigerian girls who survive this ordeal? Will they be rescued and embraced? Will they be able to one day see themselves as war heroes, not victims? Will they all ever be found?

Mainly, will the world finally take a strong stand against such militant and barbaric Islamic groups who not only rape and imprison Muslim girls and women but who also slaughter both Muslim civilians and "infidels" indiscriminately?

Dr. Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, and the author of fifteen books including the classic Women and Madness, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. Her latest book, An American Bride in Kabul, just won the National Jewish Book Award for 2013. She is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum and can be reached through her website: www.phyllis-chesler.com


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