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“Unwilling Cocoons”: Boko Haram’s War Against Women


Studies in Conflict and TerrorismJournal abstract

The kidnapping of 276 girls at Government Secondary School Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, on 14 April 2014 has brought into international prominence the organization Jama’atu Ahlis Suna Lidda’awati Wal Jihad or Boko Haram. This incident heralded a new trajectory in Boko Haram’s tactics and strategies. This article focuses on Boko Haram’s strategic deployment of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against women. The gendered performativity of Boko Haram, its methodology for sourcing for women and young girls, and its concomitant utilitarian/instrumental approach vis- a-vis SGBV against women are analyzed against the backdrop of the political economy and patriarchal ideational infrastructure of the Nigerian society. The article argues that Boko Haram’s deployment of SGBV against women is an extension of the “repertoire of violence” ingrained in the sociopolitical and cultural milieu of Boko Haram’s primary area of operation. Boko Haram’s instrumental approach to SGBV is fourfold and hinges on the sociobiological utility of women. Boko Haram construes women as the bearers of its future despite its brutality toward them. The consequence is a strategic plan for procreation of a new generation of children raised through the cyclical constellation of mass rape of women, consequent impregnation and kidnapping the offspring of such rapes. Overall, this article contributes to the burgeoning scholarly literature on Boko Haram’s terrorist activities.

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