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Repentant Boko Haram women struggle to find love



As the Nigerian government grapples with the reintegration of former Boko Haram insurgents, a new challenge has emerged: the struggle for normalcy faced by repentant women seeking husbands.

Having renounced violence and extremism, these women now find themselves ostracized by communities wary of their past. This stigma, particularly for those who were forced into the insurgency as teenagers, makes finding love and building a new life an uphill battle.

Community leaders report a growing number of repentant women expressing a desire to marry or remarry. Official figures on the number of single women among the over 162,000 surrendered insurgents and their dependents remain unavailable.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests a significant portion face social isolation due to their past affiliation.

“These ladies desperately want to marry or remarry, but men seem scared of them, as no suitors approach them with such proposal,” a ward head at Old Maiduguri, Modu Grema Wakil, complained to PUNCH in Maiduguri, on Monday,

“I have not compiled the number of such ladies, but they send messages to us as community leaders over the matter,” he said.

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This fear, however, fails to acknowledge the government’s rehabilitation programs. These programs provide extensive deradicalization training and psychological support. Many women express genuine remorse and a strong desire to contribute positively to society.

Wakil called on the Borno State government to create a database of such repenting female insurgents with a view to persuading suitors to approach them and organising marriages for them.

The situation highlights the complex challenges of post-conflict reintegration. While security concerns are valid, neglecting the social needs of these women could create a breeding ground for future radicalization.

As Nigeria seeks to heal from the insurgency, ensuring a truly rehabilitated society requires not just security measures, but also a path towards social acceptance and a chance at a normal life, including love, for those who have demonstrably renounced violence.

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