Moving forward together: Bintu's story

Bintu*, 24, lives in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in northeast Nigeria with her three-month-old son Bukar. Two years ago, Boko Haram killed Bintu's husband and held her in captivity for several months.

Having escaped and survived captivity, Bintu hoped to return home to her family and local community in Maiduguri, but she was met with scepticism and fear. Despite her husband’s family housing three of her children, they refused to accept her back because she kept Bukar.

As with other children born out of Boko Haram rape, Bintu's family considers Bukar 'Annoba', or containing Boko Haram 'bad blood'. Rejected by her own family, Bintu felt alone and traumatised.

Bintu and Bukar moved to the IDP camp, without her other children, as it was the only option she had. At the camp, they found themselves equally unwelcome.

People did not want me there. They didn’t like my son. My son likes people and is friendly. He is not like his Boko Haram father.

Given her vulnerability, Bintu was selected for the sensitisation workshops we host through our partners the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN) and the Herwa Community Initiative, with funding from the UK government, French embassy and Norwegian embassy.

One of our partners remembers when Bintu first arrived.

"She arrived with her eyes down and was hesitant to make any eye contact. It felt as if she was trying to blend into the background," said Adulhamid, from FOMWAN.

At the workshops, Bintu interacted with other survivors, listened to their stories and was able to share her own experience. She says the workshops gave her the opportunity to finally open up, share and feel less alone. Through the workshops, she found a way to move forward.

After the workshops, people would spread the word about what was being discussed with those in the wider camp, which has helped to change people's perceptions of me and others like me. The stigma against us is reducing.

Bintu remains scared for the future of her son though, due to the continued stigma against him.

"I am afraid for the future of Abubakar," she says.

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*Names changed to protect identity.