Despite the widespread #BringBackOurGirls campaign, most of them have still not been found, but 50 girls managed to escape; one of them has called for forgiveness for the militants, suggesting that their lack of education is partly to blame for their behaviour.
Deborah, 19, told the Times: “Even though they have done so much destruction, to me, punishing them will not be the best answer.
“It is by showing them what they are doing is wrong. Most of them are illiterate. They don’t know what they are doing,” she said. The Islamist militant group’s name translates as “western education is sinful”, and Islamist ideology is often fused with a strongly anti-western position, rejecting its perceived immorality.
“Some of them are in these gangs because of poverty. So by giving them a job, making them realise that these things are not good, this is the best way, I think, to help them.”
The group has terrorised northern Nigeria for the past six years, growing in strength over time and more than 10,000 people have been killed in Boko Haram related violence, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to overcome the militants, and succeed where President Goodluck Jonathan is seen to have failed – despite making promises before last week’s election that the group could be suppressed within a month.
Since her escape, Deborah has returned to her education, and taken up a place at the American University of Nigeria, in Yola, along with 20 other girls who escape. A charitable trust was set up to fund scholarships for the girls’ fees and living costs.