‘They came to us to pick us. They would ask, Who wants to be a suicide bomber? The girls would shout, me, me, me!…a victim has revealed the agony and rape encountered at Boko Haram camp on CNN.
Speaking with CNN in a special report in Cameroun, a 16-year-old girl identified as Fati, who regained freedom after spending two years in Boko Haram’s captivity, has detailed how teenage girls volunteer to go on suicide missions in order to escape molestation and other forms of hardship under the sect.
The teenage victim whose name was changed to protect her identity, said young girls fight to strap on a bomb, not because they were brainwashed by their captors but because the relentless hunger and sexual abuse became too much to bear.
“They came to us to pick us. They would ask, ‘Who wants to be a suicide bomber?’ The girls would shout, ‘me, me, me.’ They were fighting to do the suicide bombings.
“It was just because they want to run away from Boko Haram. If they give them a suicide bomb, then maybe they would meet soldiers, tell them, ‘I have a bomb on me’ and they could remove the bomb. They can run away,” Fati told CNN.
There was no escape for Fati when fighters from Boko Haram descended on her village, which was not named in the report, in 2014. Her future husband was carrying a gun, and Fati’s parents had already spent a precious N8,000 to smuggle her two older brothers to safety.
Fati shared her experience when she entered the camp newly. “We said, ‘No, we are too small; we don’t want to get married, so they married us by force,” she said, explaining that after he raped her for the first time, her abuser gave her a wedding present – a purple and brown dress with a matching headscarf that she would wear for the next two years.
While under his control, she was whisked from hideout to hideout in order to evade security forces. She recalled that she met girls even younger than her in Sambisa Forest, some of whom were the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
“There were so many kidnapped girls there, I couldn’t count. There were always bombs and bullets coming from the sky. All of the girls were so frightened. All of them, they always cried and the men raped us. There is no food, nothing. The children, you can count their ribs because of the hunger,” Fati said
She said the bombing runs over the Sambisa killed many of the captives, including some of the Chibok girls. But the raids over the past year have also freed hundreds of women and girls, including Fati, who was picked up by the Cameroonian army after her captors defected and tried to flee across the border.
Fati is now in Minawao refugee camp in Cameroon and on the last day of March, she managed to get in touch with her mother by phone after she found a refugee from her same village in camp. It took two days for her mother to get to Minawao.
“I had to collect money from people in the village so she could afford to make it here. Now that I have escaped, I thank God, and I am always praying to God that I was able to escape. It is terrible what Boko Haram is doing,” she concluded.
Fati said many girls are still in Sambisa, some volunteering to die so that they can perhaps live.