I read the Guardian article again (I read it the first time a few days ago when I did a post about it) and I don’t think the Guardian is being euphemistic here. The way the story is set up, the news that the girls “are being shared out as wives among the Boko Haram militants” was taken very hard – the news was worse than they were hoping, not better. I assumed that was because 1. it confirmed they were being raped (but there can’t have been much doubt of that in any case) and 2. it meant they were all the more firmly trapped.
Let’s look at it again.
For two weeks, retired teacher Samson Dawah prayed for news of his niece Saratu, who was among more than 230 schoolgirls snatched by Boko Haram militants in the north-eastern Nigerian village of Chibok. Then on Monday the agonising silence was broken.
When Dawah called together his extended family members to give an update, he asked that the most elderly not attend, fearing they would not be able to cope with what he had to say. “We have heard from members of the forest community where they took the girls. They said there had been mass marriages and the girls are being shared out as wives among the Boko Haram militants,” Dawah told his relatives.
Saratu’s father fainted; he has since been in hospital. The women of the family have barely eaten. “My wife keeps asking me, why isn’t the government deploying every means to find our children,” Dawah said.
See? The news was so bad he asked the oldest relatives to stay away, lest it break them. Saratu’s father fainted, and was hospitalized. The women aren’t eating. The news that there had been mass marriages was taken very hard. It wasn’t better news than they’d hoped, it was worse. I don’t take the Guardian to be prettying things up here.
Reports of the mass marriage came from a group that meets at dawn each day not far from the charred remains of the school. The ragtag gathering of fathers, uncles, cousins and nephews pool money for fuel before venturing unarmed into the thick forest, or into border towns that the militants have terrorised for months.
Again, I don’t take that to be “they’ve been married” as a euphemism for “they’re being raped” but a report of what has been reported.
On Sunday, the searchers were told that the students had been divided into at least three groups, according to farmers and villagers who had seen truckloads of girls moving around the area. One farmer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the insurgents had paid leaders dowries and fired celebratory gunshots for several minutes after conducting mass wedding ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s unbearable. Our wives have grown bitter and cry all day. The abduction of our children and the news of them being married off is like hearing of the return of the slave trade,” said Yakubu Ubalala, whose 17- and 18-year-old daughters Kulu and Maimuna are among the disappeared.
That’s not prettied up. It’s awful. They’ve been handed out into formal official slavery via marriage. It’s terrible news, and the Guardian presents it as such.
The kidnappings have sparked debate on whether foreign intervention could help stabilise Nigeria. Officials have long ruled out such a move.
The kidnappings, you see, which have resulted in forced unwanted rapey “marriages.” I don’t see the Guardian as saying anything different.