At least some of the Christian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria are thought to have been sold as wives to members of the Islamist group and moved to neighbouring Chad and Cameroon.Pogo Bitrus, leader of the Chibok Elders Forum, said that a wedding ceremony had been conducted at a town on the border with Cameroon; militants each paid 2,000 naira (US$12) for one of the girls.
Mr Bitrus said, “It’s a medieval kind of slavery.”
He said that everyone in the community felt as though their own daughters had been abducted, adding:
That’s why I’m crying now as community leader to alert the world to what’s happening so that some pressure would be brought to bear on government to act and ensure the release of these girls.
Boko Haram has been abducting Christian girls and women for some time as part of its battle to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria. The group appears to be putting into practice Quranic verses that grant Muslims the right to take, as spoils of war, female slaves, over whom they have sexual rights.
The girls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in the predominantly Christian town of Chibok on the night of 14 April.
The number taken captive continues to be disputed, but Mr Bitrus said 230 girls remain missing, 43 having managed to escape.
It is thought that the girls were initially taken to Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa Forest. Villagers have since reported seeing them being transported in trucks and then canoes.
The Nigerian authorities have been criticised for not doing enough to try to rescue the girls. The Women for Peace and Justice organisation called for a “million-woman protest march” in the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday (30 April) to demand more action from the government.
Security sources said earlier this week that the military had identified and surrounded camps in which the girls were being held but had to be cautious: “The operation is being strategically carried [out] in a very covert manner because the terrorists will not hesitate to use any of the girls as human shields or even kill them in the event of an attack.”
Some arrests have been made in connection with the kidnappings.