As more and more kidnapped women are being rescued from the trenches of Boko Haram, Nigerian officials are getting a better picture of the torture that they were forced to endure while in captivity.
Hundreds of women who have been rescued said that they were raped, threatened, married off and impregnated by Boko Haram extremists. Of the nearly 500 women who have been rescued in recent weeks, 200 have come forward as pregnant, and officials suspect that there are many more who haven’t spoken up.
“The sect leaders make a very conscious effort to impregnate the women,” Borno state governor Kashim Shettima said to The New York Times. “Some of them, I was told, even pray before mating, offering supplications for God to make the products of what they are doing become children that will inherit their ideology.”
Girls as young as nine were subjected to physical and psychological torture. Women described being locked in crowded rooms for days, until a Boko Haram terrorist would come and retrieve someone to rape. If the woman refused, he would threaten to slaughter her.
“If they want to have an affair with a woman, they will just take her to a private place, so that the others won’t see,” a rescued woman named Yana told the Times. Health officials said that trauma that Yana had endured had left her “psychologically affected.”
More than 1,000 women and girls still remain missing. Nigerian president-elect Muhammadu Buhari, who will be inaugurated later this month, has vowed to do what he can to return the women to their homes.