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Rural Women and Their Sufferings At The Hands of Katsina Terror Groups

Katsina, the capital of Katsina State, continues to see an influx of refugees fleeing their villages as they continue to suffer at the hands of terrorists ravaging their communities. The criminals rob, kidnap,  rustle cattle, murder and rape women in their acts of brigandage which is affecting other parts of Nigeria’s Northwest region.

The attacks on communities of Faskari, Dandume, Batsari, Safana, Kankara, Sabuwa, Dan-Musa, Matazu and Jibia local government areas of the state have forced over 20,000 out of their homes to seek safety in other places within the state and nearby foreign territories.

On Sunday, August 9, 2020, Kurfi Local Government Area was attacked by  terror groups, during which they kidnapped three girls, shot their way through the town and made away with valuables and food items from  homes  and shops they broke into.

A few days earlier, the criminals carried out a similar attack in Dutsin Ma town, close to the Federal University.

These string of attacks have continued to ravage the state, with the conditions worsening each time and the  death toll rising at an alarming rate.

Many of those who fled have now taken shelter in empty schools, with family members and even strangers in Katsina town. But even the open places like schools, have not kept them safe from becoming victims of crimes, as Habiba Abubakar told HumAngle.

“Boys from the area still come and steal and even rape some of the women, so some of us still aren’t safe,” she said.

Abubakar is an internally displaced person who left her village, Kandawa in  Batsari LGA.

“Our town was invaded, and our men were killed. That was why we left and sought refuge here in Katsina.

“After the third time, we couldn’t stay. They never came without leaving bodies behind. Everything had already been lost so there was nothing to stay for,” Abubakar said somberly. 

Asmau Adamu was the oldest amongst the group. With four children, the oldest of whom was 14 years old, she said more than a hundred people left Kandawa at the time. 

She narrated her  experiences at the hands of the criminal gangs, saying: “They grab women, beat them to a pulp and rape them in front of their husbands and children. After that, they kill our husbands and leave.

“If you cry out begging them to spare you and your children, they can choose to kill two out of your three children, and tell you There, now you only have one to fend for.’

“If you don’t have a husband, they kill your children to ‘make things easier on you,’ they’d say.”

Adamu was lucky enough to flee before she and her family could be harmed, but lost her elder brother at the hands of the terrorists.

But that was not all, all 14 cows the family owned were taken alongside all the foodstuff they had harvested from their farm, leaving them with close to nothing.

“We couldn’t farm this year because we knew they would definitely strike again. We can’t go and fetch water. We never imagined we would be in such a situation.

“We used to fend for ourselves. We’d farm, rear our livestock, sell in the market, and take care of ourselves. We relied on no one, but just look at us now. We’re left begging for food scraps and money.

“There is nothing left for us there. So, we had to leave. We couldn’t afford to lose any more than we already had,” she added, as tears began to well up in her eyes.

Thirty-five -year-old Rayyanatu Abdulkadir has seven children. Her father owns the house where they all live now, after he left the village last year when the violence initially started, starting his life all over again in the capital of the state, and never looked back.

She said that no sort of relief had reached them, and that they only got  food they eat from a well-meaning lady in town, where thousands of such refugees like themselves gathered every morning for something to eat.

“I send my children to fetch it for us in the morning and that’s what will remain in our bellies until the same time tomorrow.

“We have to send our children to beg on the streets so that we don’t starve. Some days, if they get enough money, we can share what we eat with others for a second meal. Other days, we have to manage the little we have to at least quench  hunger.

“Some tell us we are selling our dignity for little change. If we don’t, should we watch our children shrivel up from starvation and die?” Abdulkadir asked.

Education for the little ones has also taken a back seat, with schools now deserted and no teachers to teach the children as well. To them, the threat of the coronavirus pandemic poses close to no threat compared to the  insecurity they faced.

Abdulkadir made it clear that unless their village was declared completely safe from the terrorists, no child of hers would go back.

“Our children were in schools, but the teachers began leaving the villages even before we did.

“I even saw one of the teachers also begging here in the city. Another one was slaughtered during one of the attacks. As of now, I don’t think I want any of them going back because anything can happen,” she added.

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Hafsah Abubakar Matazu

Hafsah Abubakar Matazu is the current Programme Director at HumAngle. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mass Communication from Baze University Abuja. Prior to joining HumAngle, she worked for Abuja-based Daily Trust Newspapers as an investigative reporter. She leads the program team in planning and implementing grants as well as funded and non funded reporting projects. She tweets via @hafsahabubakar_

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