Family and Community Dynamics That Contribute to Female Involvement in Terrorist Activity in Nigeria

Peculiar M. Awa


Since 2013, Boko Haram has significantly contributed to gendered violence against women. This study examines the experiences of 16 women and girls who lived in the Boko Haram camp from 2014-2018 and had varying levels of engagement in the organization's activities. The study employs a qualitative phenomenological in-depth interview methodology. Semi-structured interviews conducted in Nigeria yielded data on the respondents' experiences before, during, and after their times with Boko Haram. Based on the analysis of interview responses and field notes, several themes emerged. Overall findings suggest that family and community dynamics play a significant role in terrorism in Nigeria. More specifically, early child marriage and the lack of access to education increase girls' vulnerability to abductions by Boko Haram, which, in turn, contributes to involvement in terrorism. Boko Haram members take control over the most disadvantaged and vulnerable victims and, through direct threats or non-consensual marriage, force these women to succumb to their pressure. Respondents reported facing barriers to reintegration into the community, although those with more formal education tended to fare better. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for future research and counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria.

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International Journal of Law and Public Administration   ISSN 2576-2192 (Print)     ISSN 2576-2184 (Online)

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