Another girl captured in the April 14, 2014, attack on a girls’ finishing school in Chibok village has been found. Out of more than 270 girls kidnapped by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, more than 100 have been freed or managed to escape; 113 now remain missing.
The details surrounding the girl’s reappearance bring to light both the physical and psychological abuse Boko Haram’s female captives often endure—and the reality of the persecution taking place in Nigeria’s dense and expansive Sambisa Forest, long known as a hideout for the group.
Once a student with hopes of a career and living a life surrounded by her family, Ruth Ngladar Pogu surrendered to the Nigerian military with her “husband,” according to a BBC report. The couple, who have two children, were seeking to benefit from the government’s amnesty program. Reportedly, Ruth and her children were received by Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum who told Reuters that reuniting Ruth with her relatives raises hopes that others still in captivity will be found.
Who is Boko Haram?
What will happen to the couple has not been publicly detailed, but both individuals are expected to be interrogated and eventually sent to deradicalization programs. The BBC report noted that Ruth will be undergoing a rehabilitation and reintegration program that will focus on her health and psychological well-being. The website Nigerian Watch reported that “it is believed she and her husband have renounced their membership of the terrorist sect.”
In Nigeria (No. 9 on Open Doors’ World Watch List), Boko Haram captives are often shunned and feared by their communities who believe they have been radicalized and are now dangerous. Open Doors has shared the story of Boko Haram former captive Esther* who managed to escape. When she returned to her Christian village, she was both feared and ridiculed. There was no homecoming celebration for the young girl, then pregnant from rape.
She shares: “I cannot count how many men raped me. Every time they came back from their attacks, they would rape us… defile us…”
Esther, former Boko Haram captive who managed to escape. For security reasons, we cannot reveal her true identity and full image.
Many of the girls could not resist and married their captors, Esther says.
In an interview with the BBC, another former Boko Haram captive, Zara John, speaks to the desperate situation captives face in the Sambisa Forest: “They gave us a choice to be married or to be a slave,” she told the BBC. “I chose to marry.”
So did Ruth* (top photo), now 20. She is not a Chibok girl, but she too was kidnapped in 2014 at age 14 when Boko Haram attacked her village in Adamawa state in northeastern Nigeria. During her time in the camp, she was severely abused in an attempt to covert her to Islam. The situation became unbearable for Ruth, and she decided to accept Islam in the hope that things would get better. She was married off immediately and after a year became pregnant with her first child. Still, she continued to look for a way out.
“Every time I washed my clothes at the stream, I tried to figure out a way to escape,” she says. “That day in 2017, God showed me a way and He gave me the courage to run. I placed Samaila on my back and fled. I didn’t look back.” Ruth was reunited with her family and began the long road of healing from her trauma in Open Doors’ trauma care in Nigeria. Her story brings us up close to the immense suffering—and the crucial need to reach more survivors.
*Name changed for security reasons
PRAY WITH US
- Praise God for one more girl to make it out of Sambisa. Pray that whatever may hold for this young woman and her husband, the Lord, through His Spirit, will be at work to redeem and restore.
- Ask God to give wisdom to government officials who are navigating this situation. Pray for discernment and compassion.
- Pray for parents of still-missing Chibok girls who might eventually see the news and the image. It’s simply impossible to imagine their feelings at this moment and the many questions they may have right now.
- Finally, pray for the tens of thousands of people who live as captives of Boko Haram—men, women, children, Christian and Muslim. Like Ruth, Esther and Zara, their dreams were stolen. Pray for both grace to endure and for release. Through the stories of our persecuted family and our local partners throughout the world, we know that God is working in seen and unseen ways—in the outhouse of a North Korean labor camp, in an Iranian prison cell and even in a Boko Haram enclave in the Sambisa Forest.
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