Survivor Recounts Rejection of 'Boko-Haram Women' in Nigeria

“The day I regained my freedom, I felt so much joy in my heart, but none of my family wanted to pick me up. »

Agnes John was abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria in January 2019 as a teenager working in the fields. She testified to a member of Open Doors of the horror of life in captivity, of her flight, of her rescue by the Nigerian military, but also of the way her relatives rejected her on her return.

In remarks taken up by Christian today, Agnès bears witness to the hard labor and the violence of the beatings she received during her captivity, until she lost consciousness. She also recounts the pressures placed on her to renounce her Christian faith.

One day it will be given to the wife of a Boko Haram fighter.

“They kept pushing us to renounce Christ…I was given to a woman who was married to one of the fighters. In secret, the woman was still a Christian. She told me to pretend, that if these people were forcing me to renounce Christ, I had to say yes, but deep down I had to cling to Christ. And, during times of Muslim prayer, I had to pray to Christ instead of their Allah. »

But one day, after two years spent in captivity, she leaves with another young girl in the forest in search of vegetables, escorted by two armed men.

“When we went a bit far into the forest, they said we had to stay and pick vegetables and they had to go somewhere but they would come back for us. They left us alone. Then the girl told me to run with her and find a way to freedom. After a long walk, we approached a village right next to my village. »

This village was deserted, the buildings had been destroyed, but Nigerian soldiers saw them and brought them to a center that collects abductees, waiting for their families to identify them.

"The day I found my freedom, I felt so much joy in my heart", Agnès then testifies, before adding, "but no member of my family wanted to come and get me". Because like many women who survived these kidnappings, she is now rejected by her relatives.

“Nobody came to see me. My mother and father were too far away, in another town. But even relatives and friends who were staying nearby refused to come and welcome me because they considered me a 'woman of Boko Haram'. They had already condemned me. »

It is finally her sister who will come to fetch her. After having initially made the choice not to leave her home, Agnès now agrees to leave her home, despite the insults of the people who meet her.

MC

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