Kenya: Schoolgirls Turned into Sex Slaves By Shabaab Men
Kenyan women and young girls lured by Al Shabaab into Somalia as jihadists are being turned into sex slaves.
Four girls rescued by the Somalia National Army (SNA) and handed over to Kenya Defence Force (KDF) tell harrowing ordeals of how the groups’ commanders and fighters sexually abused them as they spent months in captivity.
Apart from the four, security agents have rescued 20 others who have escaped from Al Shabaab, according to intelligence reports.
Some are now undergoing rehabilitation in Kenya. The victims’ accounts reveal a frightening picture of how the rogue group assaulted women lured, using all manner of tricks, into their territory by recruiters. The victims, who had willingly joined the group regret their actions.
One of the victims is 16-year old Halima, a high school student from Nairobi South C’s estate who lived with her family of three brothers and two sisters before she disappeared. She is back in Kenya after spending two years into captivity. Away from her family, she is spending time at a rehabilitation centre cum safe house where she is receiving psychological and medical treatment.
Her dreams of becoming a teacher or news anchor were cut short when she and two other girls from her class were lured to Somalia by one of her friend’s brothers who is an Al Shabaab militant. When they got an offer, arrangements were made quickly for them to be smuggled out of the country. One Tuesday morning in late 2015, Halima left for school and never returned that evening.
After three days of a fruitless search, the family put out posters in the estate and on social media with hopes of finding her. Ten days after her disappearance, Halima contacted her elder brother and informed him she was safe in Somalia fulfilling ‘Allah’s wish’. She says it took them five days to arrive in Al, one of Al Shabaab’s camps in Somalia after making several stops. The girls were handed over from one handler to another.
Their first month at the militants’ camp was relatively calm as they went through normal prayers and everybody was nice and kind to them.
In between sobs, Halima, the only one willing to narrate their ordeal, shares her story.
“Every afternoon, we would sit under a tree with an elderly man who taught us the Quran. We were also shown terrorist videos from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. After one month, our dreams of becoming a Jihadist were shattered by what happened next,” Halima recalls. Soon, things changed.
They were now subjected to despicable brutality.
They were turned into sex slaves. One day, the old man, who had been giving them religious counsel and leading them in prayers summoned her to his room and raped her repeatedly. No one responded to her screams.
After the old man was done with her, she was handed over to other fighters who also raped her. The younger militants picked them as wives. Non Muslim girls were passed around for whoever required sex.
Traumatised by the brutality, she went without food for days before a young militant called Abdi took her in as his wife. Life was tolerable with Abdi at the camp until he died in a battle with AMISOM troops. Halima’s became even more helpless. She was forced to procure an abortion when she got pregnant.
Their lucky day came when the militants left the camp for what they referred to as ‘the mother of all battles’. Halima and five other girls, who had been left behind under the supervision of an old man and injured militants, escaped with the assistance of a family that smuggled them out of the area.
After what several days of walking, soldiers from the Somalia National Army intercepted the escaping girls. With KDF’s assistance, the girls were finally brought back to Kenya. Halima’s story is a testimony of how the Al Shabaan engage in all manner of abuses under the guise of religion.
“Al Shabaab is just a marauding gang of killers. There is no Jihad in Somalia, I regret ever supporting them and leaving my family for them,” she says.
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