Life after Boko Haram: Reducing stigma through radio

Photo: © Daniel Michael

Experienced radio producer Mohammad Dikko Abdullahi (pictured) is using the power of the airwaves to spread tolerance and love for stigmatised Boko Haram survivors.

A popular local radio station in northeast Nigeria called PEACE FM is changing perceptions of women and girls returning from Boko Haram captivity, who often face stigma and rejection in their communities.

With support from International Alert and UNICEF, PEACE FM aired call-in shows on the importance of tolerance and forgiveness for these returning women and girls, and their children born out of Boko Haram sexual violence.

By bringing on guests from a range of backgrounds including educators, community leaders and human rights advocates, the shows helped to ignite conversations about these sensitive issues with listeners. They inspired new ways of thinking – and talking – about how communities terrorised by Boko Haram can best move forward together.

Mohammad is the show’s host and has worked as a radio producer for over 13 years. He has seen his homeland of Borno State transform into Boko Haram’s heartland, and is now determined to use his skills to help reclaim peace.

For me, this programme has been an eye opener. Prior to it, I used to present just for humour - only to entertain listeners. But with this, I have been exposed to the nitty gritty of my job. Being a journalist is far beyond just humour. I am glad that my work has positively impacted people’s lives.

With thousands of women and young girls returning to their villages following months - or in some cases years - of Boko Haram captivity, reintegration has not always been easy.

Mohammed’s shows have spread awareness about better ways to help those returning to overcome trauma and become accepted by their friends and family.

I speak three languages: English, Hausa and Kanuri. This has enabled me to communicate well and get the message across to many listeners… discussing the dangers of stigmatising victims of sexual violence and children born out of sexual violence as they return back, as well as promoting tolerance and accepting them. Using a radio is a great idea as almost everyone in the community owns one. We receive numerous calls from listeners who appreciate our work.

These radio conversations served as constant reminders that acceptance of others means willingness to show them love and care.

And Mohammed is now inspiring others to use radio to inspire positive change in Borno State.

International Alert was the first non-governmental organisation to air a programme on such sensitive issues, and due to the positive feedback and the impact it had on the listeners, other nongovernmental organisations have followed suit”, according to PEACE FM.

> Read more stories of communities affected by Boko Haram violence.
> Share Lauratu's story on social media using #FutureForOurGirls.