The good news that up to 700 girls and women have been rescued from captivity under the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has been tempered this week by their stories, including those who lived to tell that the terrorists began stoning women and girls to death when they realized their captives were close to being rescued.
The BBC reports that women being interviewed by the Nigerian military, who are now free under their care, say Boko Haram terrorists began stoning their captives when it became clear that the women would not run away from the Nigerian military, instead welcoming their rescue. The Associated Press adds that a number of women and girls reportedly died in the turmoil of military rescue, some being caught by Boko Haram landmines, while a small group were accidentally crushed by a Nigerian military vehicle.
“Boko Haram came and told us they were moving out and said that we should run away with them. But we said no… Then they started stoning us. I held my baby to my stomach and doubled over to protect her,” 27-year-old Lami Musa told the Associated Press. Musa escaped along with her five-month-old baby.
Boko Haram recently changed its name officially to the Islamic State West Africa Province, or ISWAP.
The rescue does not mean the crisis is over, as the Nigerian government must how resolve how to reintegrate these survivors into society. It is not known exactly where all of them are from, and those who are known are from areas that have been almost completely destroyed by Boko Haram. The first large batch of women rescued were believed to have come from Gumsuri village, a remote town on the road west to Chibok that was completely destroyed when Boko Haram attacked it, killing its male population and kidnapping the females.
Others rescued have begun speaking to the press. One woman, identified by Nigeria’s Pulse as Asabe Aliyu, explained in between bouts of vomiting blood that the terrorists had “turned me into a sex machine” and took turns raping her. “Now, I am pregnant and I cannot identify the father,” she added, noting that in the last of her time with Boko Haram, she had been forced to cook for the group, as she was unsuitable for sexual purposes due to pregnancy. Aliyu is 23 and has four children not counting her current pregnancy.
The women and children are being held at a camp while police attempt to identify them:
Nigeria’s Vanguard reports that at least 214 of the girls and women rescued are confirmed to be pregnant, which requires the government to provide them with special care — both mental and physical — while they overcome their ordeal. UN director Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin told the newspaper that one positive development in reintegrating the girls is that the communities so far identified as theirs have called for warmly welcoming them, rather than rejecting them as damaged following reports of mass rape and unwanted pregnancies.