[By Edith C. Yassin]
Through information gathered from the media, it might be safe to conclude that Ruth Pogu, Saraya Musa Mutah and Hassana Adamu have regained their freedom after over 7 years in Boko Haram captivity.
Reports indicate that Ruth, the two children she bore, alongside someone she was said to have married while in captivity, surrendered themselves to the Nigerian military on July 28, 2021, at a location in Bama, a town in Borno State. Saraya Musa Mutah, the second girl, was found last week wandering in the forest. The third girl, Hassana Adamu, alongside her two children, also presented themselves to the Nigerian Army, according to Governor Zulum’s office.
Their unpleasant ordeal began on the night of 14th April 2014, when 276, mostly Christian female students, aged from 16 to 18 were kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno State by the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram. Years after, 109 #ChibokGirls are still in captivity. Leah Sharibu, taken from her school in Dapchi, is also being held captive.
It is therefore triggering to see reports where their captors are referred to as husbands. Their captors are terrorists. Their captors are criminals. Their captors are slave drivers. Their captors are members of a deadly terror group that has engaged the Armed Forces of Nigeria in war for over 12 years.
Their captors are NOT husbands.
These terrorists have a war economy that thrives on gun-running, illegal taxation, drug trafficking, human trafficking and sex slavery. These sons of Nigeria abducted the daughters, nieces, and cousins of other sons of Nigeria. It is cruel. It is evil. It is wicked.
Several fathers have died from heartbreak. Many have developed life-threatening ailments. It is, therefore, brutal to refer to any of these abductors as husbands. A husband is a legitimate partner, a celebrated spouse, and a bringer of joy and support.
There is no religion, tribe or creed that will confer the title of husband on this violent abuse of Nigeria’s daughters. Media reportage should be more circumspect and words must be chosen carefully. Careless and insensitive use of words can confer nuances that benefit perpetrators of sexual violence to the detriment of victims and survivors. The female victim suffers a hundredfold when her captor and abuser is referred to as husband.
Welcome home Ruth.
Welcome home Saraya.
Welcome home Hassana.
May you get all the help you need. May Nigeria not continue to fail you.
Edith Yassin is a broadcast journalist based in Abuja.