The details surrounding the girl’s reappearance bring to light both the physical and psychological abuse Boko Haram’s female captives often endure—and the reality of the persecution taking place in Nigeria’s dense and expansive Sambisa Forest, long known as a hideout for the group.
Once a student with hopes of a career and living a life surrounded by her family, Ruth Ngladar Pogu surrendered to the Nigerian military with her “husband,” according to a BBC report. The couple, who have two children, were seeking to benefit from the government’s amnesty program. Reportedly, Ruth and her children were received by Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum who told Reuters that reuniting Ruth with her relatives raises hopes that others still in captivity will be found.
What will happen to the couple has not been publicly detailed, but both individuals are expected to be interrogated and eventually sent to deradicalization programs. The BBC report noted that Ruth will be undergoing a rehabilitation and reintegration program that will focus on her health and psychological well-being. The website Nigerian Watch reported that “it is believed she and her husband have renounced their membership of the terrorist sect.”
In Nigeria (No. 9 on Open Doors’ World Watch List), Boko Haram captives are often shunned and feared by their communities who believe they have been radicalized and are now dangerous. Open Doors has shared the story of Boko Haram former captive Esther who managed to escape. When she returned to her Christian village, she was both feared and ridiculed. There was no homecoming celebration for the young girl, then pregnant from rape.
She shares: “I cannot count how many men raped me. Every time they came back from their attacks, they would rape us… defile us…”
Watch Esther’s redemptive story