These powerful pictures show some girls who have survived abduction by Boko Haram. In each image by Photographer, Ruth McDowall, the survivor tells of their horrible experience of Boko Haram.
Hauwa, 15 years
In 2009 during a crisis in Maiduguri city my friend and I were taken by my mothers friend who lived nearby. The woman and her husband were Boko Haram members. The wife locked us inside her house and wanted us to become her ‘Muslim daughters’. The woman tried to force me to convert to Islam and change my name, when I refused I would be severely beaten. After one week passing, while the woman was in the house, my friend held a brick and hit the lady in the head, and then we grabbed the house key and locked the woman inside. I ran away back to my house only to discover my father had just been killed during the crisis. The ladies husband impregnated my friend that was with me, so how she has a child born to a Boko Haram member. I no longer live in Abeokuta and I miss my family. I have to work hard so that eventually I can support my mother and my siblings.
I was abducted from my hometown of Gwoza in 2013 while farming. I spent three months in a Boko Haram camp. They were about to slaughter me by slitting my throat. One of them begged me not to resist, so I relented and converted to Islam. I read from a Koran, and they put a veil on me. They made my bride price to be 15,000 naira $75. One day I preteneded to have stomach pains, so an old lady escorted me to a nearby hospital. Once we were in the town, I threatened to turn her into police so she ran and left me there. That is how I escaped. I am not in school anymore and I still remember everything from my experience which is very upsetting.
Sarah, 20 years old
On May 7th 2013 I was travelling in a public bus with my friend. A Boko Haram member stopped us on the road, he entered the vehicle. We also realised the driver of the bus was a Boko Haram member. I was in the camp for three days until they released us.
Mairama, 16 Years
Boko Haram attacked my village and came to my house in the night of 30th September 2013. I was sent to a camp in the Gwoza hills where I spent three weeks in the camp. I would fetch water and cook for the insurgents and spent a lot of time sad and crying. They arranged for me to marry, but I refuse to sleep with the man, so he threatened he would kill me next time. One night a wife of one of the commanders showed the path to escape, so me and two other girls spent two days walking and running through the bush until we reached a safe city. It was just the grace of God that saved me. I am now back in school and would like to become a nurse one day.
I was travelling in a public bus after paying my school fees on the 7th May 2013, while on the road a Boko haram member stopped and entered the vehicle. Everyone was telling me to say I’m a Muslim, otherwise I will be killed. We entered a Boko Haram camp in the Sambisa forest, I stayed there for three days and each night we would sleep under big trees. I saw young boys in the camp carrying guns, some even as young as 10 years. I ddin’t eat any food for three days, I was thinking it could be human flesh, because there are rumours that Boko Haram eat human flesh, so I would throw the food on the ground each day and pretend I ate. Eventually some insurgents asked which village I was from, and realised they knew my fathers brother. So they decided to let me go, and dropped me off at a main road, they made me wear hijab and gave me 2000 naira. My family are now taking refuge in Cameroon, but I am not staying with them. I burnt my hijab after I escaped, I have dreams of Shekau in the night, coming to kill me.
Hannah, 15 years
Boko Haram stormed into my house on the night of the 28th of September 2013. I was in a deep sleep, they asked my sister, mother and I to come outside. My father was not around at the time. They asked our names and upon hearing our Christian names they decided to take me away. I am the daughter of a pastor, and at the time I was only 14 years old. When I left the house with them, they burnt a church and then journeyed for two days to reach their camp in the Gwoza hills, it was a long and difficult journey. Once I reached the camp I was forced to join Islam, given a new name and they married to one man. I managed to escape one night with two other girls. I am still struggling with the memories but I am trying to focus and to continue with school and become a business woman.
Martha, !4 years
On the 7th of Spetember 2014 while I was travelling to a wedding I was captured by Boko Haram. They killed my brother in law and my sisters fiancé. They carried me and my two sisters to their camp in Gulak. I stayed there for four months. I suffered greatly during this time, sometimes there was not enough food and I hardly bathed. They told me not to walk around outside, and when I did they would beat me, they told me not to talk, and I would talk, so they would beat me, they told me not to sing, I would sing and they would beat me. They taught me how to use a gun, and I went on two operations with them where I would carry ammunitions, but I could never bring myself to kill anyone. I met some of the Chibok girls, and they had been taught to kill people. They tried to force my sister to kill an old man, when she refused they shot her instead, I watched people being slaughtered like ants .They were planning to marry me to one man. A week before the wedding I escaped. I had tried to escape four times but failed every time. An old woman in the camp who spoke my tribal language explained directions of how to escape through the bush. So that night while pretending to go to the toilet, and sneaked away in the night with another girl. I still think about the experience all the time, when I sing in my tribal language I forget, but if I sit quietly I remember everything and will just cry.
Blessing, 19 years.
At about 8pm on the 30th of September 2013 Boko Haram came into my brothers room and shot him. They took his wife and put a gun to her head, they asked for all the ladies in the house to come outside. They took me away with my sister and sister in law. When we reached the Boko Haram camp they asked me to denounce Christ and accept Islam, if not they will slaughter me. Out of fear I agreed and then they gave me a hijab to wear. After converting I was then made to married a insurgent called Abul. I suffered so much during the three weeks in that camp. While Boko Haram were outside gather ammunitions a wife of one commander showed me how to escape. I ran away to safety with two other girls.
Photo Credit – Ruth McDowall
H/T – metro.co.uk