Boko Haram kidnapped Um Haleema when she was 16 years old. The militants forced her to watch them slaughter men, women, and children. They also forced her into marrying a man she hated. She escaped six months later, but found out she was pregnant–and is keeping her captor’s baby.
“People in this village are rejecting me because of the pregnancy,” she told CNN. “Some will be happy to have me dead. Many people are even saying that I should go for an abortion.”
Despite the threats, she kept the baby and is currently seven months into the pregnancy. The community threatened her life, along with the baby’s. The men made it clear “they will not tolerate the children of Boko Haram living amongst them.” A few vigilantes who fight against the terrorist group, however, do not believe a militant impregnated Haleema.
“I am not aware of any woman in this village who was impregnated by them,” stated one man. “If any woman is found to be pregnant, in our tradition, the pregnancy is considered Haram (unlawful), hence we cannot accept them wholeheartedly because they can be like baby snakes.”
Luckily for Haleema, her family is on her side. Her mother refuses to even consider abortion.
“We heard about one girl who died after she attempted an abortion, losing both the mother and the baby,” she explained. “The girl was the only child to her mother, so that scared us. If God wishes, she will give birth safely. Life is in the hands of God alone.”
Haleema said her child deserves to live.
Women captured by the terrorist group are slowly returning home. In May, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) also reported that five babies were born in three days in refugee camps in Sokoto State. The Nigerian army recently rescued these new mothers, along with hundreds of others from Boko Haram camps. About 700 women were rescued, over 200 of them “visibly pregnant.” The terrorist group has kidnapped over 2,000 women in the past five years, attempting to establish its own Caliphate. Human rights organizations claimed the militants raped and sold the women into sex slavery, which led to fears of future terrorism in Nigeria.
“I am seriously worried with the fact that most women tend to hate and abandon children they deliver from rape,” said Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima. “Now, the problem is that these children could go to the streets unattended to, they then lack access to food, health care and education. The result is that they could indeed inherit their fathers’ (ideology) somehow.”