The President of Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN) and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Lagos, Prof. Joseph Adeyemi, has stated that the federal government must take into consideration the need to provide intervention in the community the freed Chibok girls would return to.
This, Adeyemi stated, would help prevent reprisal attacks on the girls’ from family members and people in the society who lost their loved ones to Boko Haram.
Adeyemi who stated this yesterday in an interview with ARISE Televission, a THISDAY Newspaper sister broadcast company, disclosed that APN has set up a committee headed by Prof. Obingbodun, a professor of psychiatry at the University College Ibadan, to lead a group of local experts who would assist in helping the young ladies whenever they get released from their captors.
According to him, “We have informed the Ministries of Health and Women Affairs that we have these people who will be ready to assist them. We are now having to deal with not just the girls, but their family members, society and we have to be sure that these children will not find themselves in such a situation whereby they get home and neighbors who may have lost love ones through the activity of Boko Haram refuse to associate with them, calling them names and seeking vengeance against them. Society has to be prepared also.”
When asked if the girls might have suffered post-traumatic stress, he said: “That is a definite possibility; it is possible that quite a number of them will be going through this kind of experience. These were people who were expecting many things in life, at stage they thought they were going to complete their secondary education, all of a sudden they are taken out without prior preparation and taken to an environment where life must have been quite different. Anybody in that kind of situation must have had a difficult situation. It is very likely that they will have post-traumatic stress.
“From what we have seen, the clips we have seen since the Boko Haram issue has been on, it is not impossible that many of them might have been exposed to severe and fearful situations. It is not impossible that they may have witnessed or become aware about the death of some of their colleagues, it is not unlikely. They are between 16 and 18 and they have witnessed all kinds of abuses.”
On how to reintegrate them back into the society given what they have experienced, he said it will be a huge challenge.
“I am aware we have a number of people who have been coming into the country from different background, who apparently in their mind have the intension of assisting. But we know that those who are familiar with the culture, the upbringing of these young girls, their expectations and the way they may likely react to situations won’t be in a position to assist in their reintegration into the society. Reasons being that all of them have to have assessment as soon as they are discharged from their captures,” he said.
On forceful conversion to Islam, he said most of the girls might have cooperated to preserve their lives.
“Who knows how many of them may have lost their lives for refusing to convert. And when you have people dangling guns behind you or you have been informed what could happen to you expect you do certain things, of course you would comply that does not mean that you would have done so if you were given a better choice,” he added.