Date: April 4, 2021
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
Nigeria’s army is under pressure to improve protection for minority Christians amid increased Islamic attacks.
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– An abducted Christian schoolgirl, who refused to convert to Islam, has given birth to a second child while held captive by Islamist militants, several sources confirmed.
Leah Sharibu, held captive in Nigeria by terror group Boko Haram for more than three years, gave birth to the child at the end of 2020, Christian rights activists and her parents said.
BosNewsLife usually does not publish names of victims of suspected sexual abuse unless already publicly revealed and agreed to by victims, in this case, her parents whose daughter was abducted.
Leah Sharibu was abducted by Boko Haram in 2018. The terrorist group refused to release her because she would not renounce her Christian faith, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
In January 2020, Leah was reported to have given birth to her first child after being forced into marriage with a Boko Haram commander.
“Leah’s captors will view her as having converted to Islam. Because of the Islamic belief that a wife automatically takes the religion of her husband,” explained Christian advocacy group, Barnabas Fund.
Leah Sharibu’s parents, Nathan and Rebecca, told local media they were traumatized by these “heartbreaking rumors” They added that it was “a big shame” that President Muhammadu Buhari‘s administration had “abandoned” their daughter.
Leah, then 14, was the only Christian among the 110 schoolgirls kidnapped in February 2018 from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, Christians said.
Boko Haram declined to release Leah when the other girls were freed the following month because she refused to renounce her faith in Christ and convert to Islam, Christians said. Boko Haram – which can be loosely translated as “Western education is forbidden” – is known to target Christian communities and churches.
It also attacks the Nigerian government and armed forces, Western-style schools, and colleges. Since 2015 extremist violence perpetrated by Boko Haram and other Islamist groups has killed at least 8,400 Christians in Nigeria, according to rights activists.
Leah, who was then 14, was the only Christian among the 110 schoolgirls kidnapped in February 2018 from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State. The terrorist group refused to release Leah when the other kidnapped girls were returned to their homes the following month because she had refused to renounce her faith and convert to Islam.
Boko Haram – which can be loosely translated as “Western education is forbidden” – is known to target Christian communities and churches, the Nigerian government and armed forces, and Western-style schools and colleges, whether the students are Christian or Muslim. Since 2015 extremist violence perpetrated by Boko Haram and other Islamist groups has killed at least 8,400 Christians in Nigeria.