On Friday May 14, Leah Sharibu turned 18 years old. This will be her fourth birthday in captivity. Leah Sharibu is the girl who defied one of the most well-known terrorist groups, Boko Haram. She is the only student from the Dapchi school kidnapping in 2018 not to be released. The reason – she refused to deny Jesus.
Though politicians have promised to secure Leah’s release, she is still in captivity. Rebecca, Leah’s mum was recently asked if she hope to see Leah again. She responded: “Yes, by the grace of God. I have not lost hope because God is in control and people are praying. I have the hope that one day, I will see my daughter again.”
There are rumours that Leah has recently given birth to a second child. We don’t know if this is true, but the rumours highlight the vulnerability of women who are taken by extremist groups. An Open Doors spokesperson said:
“The children born into Boko Haram from women in captivity are themselves victims and their growing number only adds to the urgency to rescue the thousands of girls, women and children imprisoned by Boko Haram.” Often, those who are taken are forced into marriages with their attackers – if the women are ever released, the complexity of their situation often means the communities which they came from can reject them. These situations simply show just how much gender plays a role in the kind of persecution Christian women and girls can face.
While Leah Sharibu and the Chibok kidnapping are Nigeria’s most famous, there are many other victims of kidnapping by Book Haram. Nigeria has one of the world’s highest rates of kidnap-for-ransom cases, explains Quarts Africa. In their effort to establish a caliphate in the Lake Chad Basin and beyond, Boko Haram has snatched thousands of girls, women, boys and men from their homes across northeastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon and southern areas of Niger and Chad.
On Leah’s 18th birthday, Open Doors continues to call on the international community to urge the Nigerian President to continue efforts to liberate Leah and all the hostages held by Boko Haram, and to create a position within the Government for the sole purpose of maintaining an active family liaison and an open and accessible channel of communication with the traumatised parents of the hostages.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.