Four years ago, Aisha Mamman was studying for a diploma in accounting when Boko Haram attacked her town, Bama, in northeastern Nigeria. Now she’s a 25-year-old mother and the ex-wife of a Boko Haram commander.
Since the militant group began its campaign of violence against the Nigerian government in 2009, Boko Haram has
kidnapped hundreds of young women and girls, subjecting them to sexual assault, forcing them to work as slaves and making them participate in violence, including suicide attacks. But Mamman’s experience is different – she is one of a number of young women who have chosen to marry men they know are members of the terrorist group.
Mamman met her husband when he gave her and her family shelter as they fled toward the Cameroonian border. “He liked me, so he took pity on us,” she says. When her parents continued on to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, she chose to stay with him as his fourth wife.
“I fell in love with him and he was treating me well. So when he asked me, I married him.”