After almost seven months, Nigeria’s government finally reached an agreement with the terrorist group which kidnapped approximately 200 schoolgirls. On October 17, officials announced that a ceasefire would commence and the girls will be released.
The Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, kidnapped the girls from their school dormitory in the northeast town of Chibok. A few of the girls have since been released or have managed to escape, while most remain in captivity.
Their capture sparked international protests. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls circulated with thousands of followers, encouraging sympathetic persons worldwide to write and call local governments to bring attention to the crisis.
Meanwhile, officials prepare not only for the girls’ release, but plan to deal with the consequences of their endeavor – both physical and psychological.
“What is happening to the girls is an open secret: sexual abuse. We are preparing based on this assumption, which is almost a given,” Dr. Ratidzai Ndhlovu, the country representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), told BuzzFeed.
Specialists like Dr. Nihinlola Mabogunje, the country director of Ipas, an international health NGO, stressed the importance of continually assisting the girls and their families to ease their way back into society. The traditional culture of rural Nigeria often associates great stigmas with victims of sexual abuse. Officials are hoping to quench such imputations before they begin.
“Let the family be counseled on traumatic counseling for them to understand that the girls will be helped when they get out,” Mabogunje said in an interview with BuzzFeed.
For several weeks, health officials, United Nations agencies, and international organizations have been developing plans for helping the girls heal physically and emotionally.