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A Negotiator that brokered the release of the Chibok girls says some girls refused to be freed

“Many women and girls abducted by Boko Haram identify with their captors, may not want to give up their new lives with their militant husbands, or feel forced to stay due to fear or shame.”

82 chibok girls
A man carrying a Boko Haram flag walks past a group of 82 Chibok girls, who were held captive for three years by Islamist militants, as the girls wait to be released in exchange for several militant commanders, near Kumshe, Nigeria May 6, 2017. Via REUTERS/Zanah Mustapha

An exclusive report by Thomson Reuters Foundation has revealed that some of the Chibok girls that were kidnapped in 2014 refused to be among the 82 girls that were freed last week.

This was revealed to Reuters by legal practitioner and mediator, Zannah Mustapha. He acted as an intermediary in the latest release of 82 Chibok girls.

He believes the reason for their refusal to return home could be that ‘they had been radicalized by the jihadists, and might be afraid, ashamed or even too powerful to return to their old lives.’

However, this was just his speculation as he did talk to the girls about their reason himself. “I have never talked to one of the girls about their reasons,” he told Reuters.

Being only a mediator he couldn’t force or compel the girls to return home.

Explaining what could have the reason for the girls’ refusal to return home, Psychologist Fatima Akilu said: “many women and girls abducted by Boko Haram identify with their captors, may not want to give up their new lives with their militant husbands, or feel forced to stay due to fear or shame.”

“They develop Stockholm syndrome, identify with captors and want to remain.”

According to Reuters, Fatima Akilu has helped run deradicalization programs for Boko Haram militants and women abducted by them. She is also the head of the Neem Foundation, a nonprofit group aimed at countering extremism in Nigeria.

The earlier release of 21 Chibok girls in October 2014 and this recent one were both brokered by Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross, Reuters said.

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