• Sheet of paper Report

“Help Us Build Our Lives”: Girl Survivors of Boko Haram and Military Abuses in North-East Nigeria

Boko Haram survivors interviewed by Amnesty International in Nigeria in 2023.
(Amnesty International)

For over a decade, the armed conflict in northeast Nigeria between Boko Haram factions and Nigerian forces has affected millions of lives. Families have been torn apart, villages and schools burnt and pillaged, thousands of civilians killed, and more than two million civilians have been internally displaced. Boko Haram has engaged in widespread abductions and sexual violence, and the Nigerian military has unlawfully imprisoned and forcibly disappeared people for years. The conflict has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, and all sides to the conflict have committed crimes under international law and other human rights violations and abuses. Impunity reigns.

While everyone in northeast Nigeria has been affected by the conflict, girls who became associated with Boko Haram, overwhelmingly through abductions and forced marriages at young ages, have experiences unique to their age and gender. The crimes committed against these girls, some of whom are young women by the time they leave Boko Haram, have consequences that are also specific to their age and gender, including health complications, access to education, ability or desire to be married again, and stigma and rejection by family and communities. The crimes affect their hopes and priorities for their future. This also means the needs and priorities of those who were girls when associated with Boko Haram are often different than those of boys or women.

This report is based on 126 interviews, 76 with girls and young women who are survivors of Boko Haram, conducted between December 2019 and May 2024. The research examines abuses and violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law the girls endured by Boko Haram, as well as by the Nigerian authorities, including the military. It sets out to better understand the unique experiences of these girls and young women, and their aspirations, to inform support and reintegration efforts across northeast Nigeria.

Read “Help Us Build Our Lives”: Girl Survivors of Boko Haram and Military Abuses in North-East Nigeria.