The Chibok Girls’ Dilemma

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The Chibok Girls' Dilemma

Some of the released Chibok school girls. Photo credit: Premium Times

News broke on the eve of May 6, 2017 that 82 more of the abducted girls have been released. Though it’s been three years since the girls were forcefully taken into captivity by the dreaded terrorist group boko haram, it’s nothing short of a big relieve and cheerful development. This release, as the case of those freed in October last year, was a result of the ongoing negotiation coordinated by the Switzerland government and the International Committee of Red Cross, in collaboration with the armed forces of Nigeria. An undisclosed number of boko haram fighters were reportedly swapped in the deal. As it stands now, an estimated 113 girls (apart from several hundreds who are ‘non-Chibok’ girls) are still in the custody of the terrorists.

Related post: 14-4-14, A Day of Horror in Chibok Nigeria

Surprisingly, one of the girls who was supposed to be part of the batch reneged. According to a member of the mediating teams, Zannah Mustapha, in an interview with Channels TV’s correspondence, the girl said she was fine and would not want to go home. Mustapha said some of the girls refused to return due to the fear that they have been radicalized by the terrorists and may feel ashamed, afraid or too powerful to adjust back to their old lives.

Ordinarily, one would expect that anyone who is taken captive against their will, would yearn for nothing less than freedom. But practically, it is no wonder that three years is enough to establish a strong psychological bond between a captor and his/her victim. Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. wrote in the Psychology Today of the process in which physical restraints and deprivation become internalized to such an extent that the victim becomes dependent on his/her abuser. The victim’s mind is barraged by constant horror into despair and subjugation through the experience of kidnapping and subsequent abuse. Then the captor or an accomplice switches into the role of a ‘saviour’ to relief the victim of his/her pain, hunger, suffering, isolation among other forms of abuse. The tormentor thus becomes a god, who goes further to reinforce their position by manipulating the victim to believe that any attempt to resist or escape his/her current status would be a futile and harmful effort. At this point, even if the victim is left without supervision, they would not attempt to escape because their natural survival system and mental energy for self assertion have been broken down.

Frank Ochberg and David Soskis in their work, Victims of Terrorism termed the connection between captor and victim as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ or ‘identification with the perpetrator’. This is the Chibok girls’ dilemma! The victims now depend on their captors not only for survival, but also for all physiological needs, information, and emotional support in an atmosphere that seems to be better than home. The psychological ties formed in this kind of situation is highly inexorable but for the engagement of experts in that field.

In the case of the returned Chibok girls, the mind control process must have advanced into altered-orientation and acquisition of new ‘skills’ while in the custody of boko haram. I hope Nigeria has what it takes to de-radicalize and re-integrate them into the society. Otherwise, certain undesirable character might be activated in a near future. More so, there still remain pockets of violence being perpetuated, using female and children suicide bombers in North-East, Nigeria. Further to that, those social issues that allowed the infestation of boko haram activities are yet to be thoroughly addressed.

The only acceptable philosophy towards which our actions must tilt, out of this conundrum is that of humanitarian outcome. As long as a society permits its citizens to be abducted by men of the under-world within its territory, that society must be ready to negotiate the release of its citizens. And such situation must be nipped in the bud within the shortest possible time, otherwise the society looses its sovereignty. Stake holders in the case of Nigeria must ensure that every abducted person is freed and cleaned-up. They must conquer terrorism, maintain security of lives and properties, and ensure education and welfare of the citizens are duly delivered.


Related post: 14-4-14, A Day of Horror in Chibok Nigeria

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