Earlier in 2017, 83 schoolgirls held hostage by Nigerian terror group Boko Haram were given the opportunity to leave the militants following a series of negotiations with the government. All but one returned to their grieving families after three years of captivity.
In a move that baffled the government and international community, the girl reportedly said of her life with the man who abducted her and forced her into marriage: “I am happy where I am. I have a husband.”
Developing feelings of trust and affection towards an abductor is nothing new, however. The phenomenon is known as the Stockholm Syndrome, a phrase coined in the 1970s.
Boko Haram and its ally in the Middle East, the Islamic State (Isis), are among the world’s most powerful terror groups and they have enslaved thousands of women and girls in recent years. Some chose to stay with their captors.
A new report by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) says that factors such as sexual violence and human trafficking are fuelling terrorism globally. They can also provide fertile ground for captives to develop a feeling of sympathy for and loyalty to their abductors.
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