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2014 (Narrative date)

There are an estimated 1,386,000 people living in modern slavery in Nigeria (GSI 2018). Since 2009, Nigeria’s homegrown Islamist insurgent movement, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, which means “Western Education is Forbidden,” has waged a violent campaign against the Nigerian government in its bid to impose Islamic law. The attacks have increasingly targeted civilians, mainly in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. Borno State, the birthplace of Boko Haram, has suffered the highest number of attacks. A range of issues, including widespread poverty, corruption, security force abuse, and longstanding impunity for a range of crimes have created fertile ground in Nigeria for militant armed groups like Boko Haram.

Hadiza was abducted from her village by Boko Haram in November 2013. Though she tried to escape, she was captured, forced to convert to Islam and married off to an insurgent.

I was at home packing food when we heard gunshots. We ran into them as we tried to escape. They surrounded us and asked where we were going. They said “Since we’ve caught you, we are going to convert you to Islam”.

They said, “You are going to convert to Islam by taking the oath of Kalima Shahada. You will not go home, and we will marry you off since you are still young”.

We did not really agree [to convert] and were uncomfortable but the insurgents said, “if you don’t stop misbehaving, we’ll shoot you and throw your corpses into the river”.


Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch