Hadiza recalls walking with a 12-year-old girl by her side. Both of their waists carried explosive belts which had the potential to kill many. After being kidnapped and proposed to by a Boko Haram member, which she had declined, she and another girl were sent out to detonate a bomb in a Nigerian citizen refugee camp. If they didn’t comply, those trying to get away from the war the Boko Haram had started would die. Hadiza didn’t want to be the cause of so many deaths. “I don’t know how to get this thing off me,” Hadiza remembers frantically saying. “What are you going to do with yours?” she resignedly asked the 12-year-old girl walking next to her. “I’m going to go off by myself and blow myself up,” the girl said sorrowfully (Searcy).Hadiza is one of many females who have been kidnapped and forced into marriage. If they don’t comply they will be sent out on a suicide mission. Suicide bombings have allowed the Boko Haram to weaken areas that they want to take over. Females have become main victims to suicide bombing because of their unsuspicious appearance and their lack of education.The Boko Haram is exploiting young women by using them as suicide bombers if they do not comply to marriage. “Western Learning is Forbidden”Northern Nigeria’s poverty and government absence created a hotbed for a radical group like the Boko Haram to evolve. The Boko Haram, which translates into “Western learning is forbidden”, was founded in 2002 by Muhammad Yusuf (Cassman). Their main goal is to make North Nigeria an Islamic state. Boko Haram’s activities have made everything shut down. Schools are no longer a place of learning, it is now a storage unit for weapons, ammunition, and a barricade from the enemy. The Boko Haram is said to have ties to other terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, West African the Movement for unity, and the Jihad. The targets of the Boko Haram is not obvious. Elisha, a victim of the Boko Haram, states “They can kill the christians. They can kill the muslims. They can just do it anyhow” (Larsen). To gain ground the use of suicide bombers has become even more common. Females are mainly used as suicide bombers.The Worst Choice The Boko Haram’s rise to prominence came after they abducted 200 Nigerian school girls. They then became recognized as a terrorist group which led to the international campaign #bringbackourgirls, which was started by Nigerians to rescue the girls that had been taken. The abduction caught global attention, with the first lady Michelle Obama extending condolences, “My husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night” (Larsen). Most commonly women captured by the Boko Haram are used as suicide bombers, because it is an easier way to damage certain targets. Jason Warner, assistant professor at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, a United States elite military academy, found that “Almost immediately after the Chibok kidnappings … Boko Haram’s use of women suicide bombers skyrocketed,”(Kriel). This is most certainly because of the global attention they achieved from taking the 200 school girls. Women , rather young girls, were the preferred choice of Boko Haram because they could be used for marriage or suicide bombings. Either they marry a Boko Haram fighter and face years of abuse or they go on a suicide mission which the Boko Haram members say is a way to be honored in heaven. Most women choose the suicide option because they too are motivated to honor their god. It’s also no surprise they choose suicide over the alternative of years of abuse from a terrorist.One former insurgent told researchers that “women are cheap,” adding that “using women allows you to save your men.” (Kriel). It’s clear that the Boko Haram see women as disposable, so whether they choose marriage or suicide, they are of some use to the organization. Watch Out for Females!”Boko Haram has become something more than a terrorist group, more even than a movement. Its name has taken on an incantatory power. Fearing they will be heard and killed by Boko Haram, Nigeria’s refuse to say the group’s name aloud, referring instead to ‘the crisis’ or ‘the insecurity'” (Schultz). Nigerians are scared of the Boko Haram, they are scared of dying. With the Boko Harams tactics of suicide bombing they have created a panic and fear throughout Northern Nigeria. West Point and Yales Combating Terrorism Center researchers found that out of the 434 successful suicide bombings, 244 the gender was confirmed as female (Kriel). Nigerians are scared of women because so many have been forced to cause so much destruction. Billboards have been put up warning civilians of child and women suicide bombers, and parents have been warned to keep a close eye on their children. Hassa, a member of a local civilian militia said that “I get afraid when I see women” (Searcy). Not only is the Boko Haram exploiting women by using them as suicide bombers, but they are creating a society that is constantly fearful of the them. Muslim or Made up?The Boko Haram identifies as an Islamic terrorist group, however, does there actions line up with what they supposedly believe? The answer is no. In fact, what they are doing is opposing the teachings of the Quran. Women are raped, beaten, and sent to die for their own advantage. Twenty-seven year old Nasir Isiaku, a former terrorist group member in Northern Nigeria talks about how his leaders read this passage from the Quran to justify their actions, “O you believers, you should not be friendly with your enemies.” It seems that Boko Haram label everyone an enemy who doesn’t share in their extreme ideology. This is true for Muslim or Christian. The Quran says that the job of a Muslim women is to raise her children and be a devoted and respectful wife. Women in Islam are allowed to vote, own a business, participate in politics, or go on a Hajj pilgrimage. Islam understands and agrees that all genders should receive a good education because they will be passing it down to the next generation. The Quran further states that “The believers, men and women, are protecting friends (Awliya) of one another; they join the ma’ruf (that which Allah commands) and forbid people from munkar (that which Allah prohibits); they perform salat, and give the zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have mercy on them. Surely Allah is All mighty, All wise” TMQ At Taubah: 71(Guzman). It seems obvious from this Quranic text that Boko Haram have a very warped view. Prophet Muhammad’s wife Khadija was a very successful businesswoman, resulting in Islam encouraging women to be educated and do what they are interested in. Everything The Quran and Islamic teachers say about Islam counteracts everything the Boko Haram claims is true. Not only does this prove that the Boko Haram are not doing this for Islam, but it also proves that Muslim women are supposed to be treated with respect. Therefore, the Boko Haram cannot be labeled as a Muslim group because of their radical and contradictory views. Never ending Abuse After being captured by the Boko Haram most women are given a choice of life or death. Life married to a fighter with years of abuse and rape. Or death by a suicide bomb for honor in heaven. Some will marry because they want to survive and escape death but even if they escape the Boko Haram will they never get away from the abuse. In April 2015, Amina and her daughter came out of the Sambisa forest thinking that they were safe from the torture, beatings, and rape. But little did they know that this was only the beginning. Mausi Segun, a human rights watch researcher, met Amina and her daughter at a refugee camp and learned that they had faced verbal and emotional abuse since their escape from the Boko Haram because they had been married to Boko Haram fighters. Women are raped, starved, and beaten until they accept marriage with a fighter, but those who did not marry and where not sent out of a suicide mission are sent out to work and often take their anger of being captured out on those women who are treated better by marrying. “Boko Haram fighters show preference to their so-called wives, and the ones who refuse to get married receive the brunt of the abuse.” (Branford). Females that do decide to marry the Boko Haram fighters instead of dying are labeled as supporters of Boko Haram and are ignored (BBC News). The Boko Haram is not only exploiting women by using them as suicide bombers but also by marrying them. Those that escape the Boko Haram never escape the abuse that follows after from fellow captures, families and friends. A Simple Solution?Is there any solution to the horrific things that are happening to women? Yes, and in fact it is not as complex as one might think it to be. But first, consider some of the reasons the Boko Haram is still able to capture women and use them as suicide bombers. One is because youths lives are not easy in Northern Nigeria. They are faced with poverty, unemployment, and oppression from the Boko Haram. Many youth struggle to find their worth in life which leads them to join the Boko Haram in hopes of money and worth (Onuoha). Secondly, the lack of education is Northern Nigeria is a huge reason the Boko Haram is succeeding. Boko Haram translates into “Western Learning is Forbidden” meaning most schools have been shut down not only to use as bases but also because the teachings are western which the Boko Haram does not want. 670,000 children have been out of school for more than a year and 1,800 schools have closed and remain closed (BBC News) resulting in a high amount of illiteracy and lack of general knowledge. To stop the exploitation of females as suicide bombers religious teachings need to be taught truthfully. Schools need to be started again and children need to be discouraged from joining to fight with the Boko Haram. Proper education would allow children to form their own beliefs and not easily be brainwashed like they are now. Job opportunities would make people’s lives so much better and they would not have to do something wrong like joining a terrorist group to feel a purpose in life. If schools were started up again children could be taught how to get help if they are caught by the Boko Haram and sent on a suicide mission. Children could also be taught the correct teachings of the Quran so if they are caught by the Boko Haram they will know it is a lie and killing others is not honoring Allah. The deaths of adolescents would most likely decrease as children would know how to avoid these people and call for help if sent on a suicide mission. Why are humans so easily feared?The exploitation of women as suicide bombers by the Boko Haram so that they can gain territory and create fear leads to the question: Why are humans so easily feared? Fear gripped everyone in Northern Nigeria. Fears of being kidnapped, killed, or tortured. Fear stops families from accepting their daughters after they are captured by the Boko Haram. Fear drives women to go blow themselves and others up in the name of Islam. Fear is what the Boko Haram loves because fear breaks communities apart. Fear has caused schools to shut down, homes to be destroyed, and families to be split apart forever. Fear has killed so many people. Fear is every humans weakness because if a human ever feels fearful they will do whatever they can to survive. Women taken by the Boko Haram do whatever they can to survive. Even if that means blowing themselves for heavenly rewards or living with rape and abuse for the rest of your life. It is a heartbreaking reality of what is happening in Northern Nigeria.
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