Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Crime and Justice

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Besiki Luka Kutateladze

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Carleen Vincent- Robinson

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Rosa Chang

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Albert Wuaku

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Women, Girls, Security, Terrorism, Counter- terrorism, Boko Haram, Nigeria

Date of Defense



This study examines the experiences of 20 women and girls who lived in the Boko Haram camp in 2014-2018 and had varying levels of engagement in the organization's activities. The study employs a qualitative phenomenological in-depth interview methodology. Semi-structured interviews conducted in Nigeria and the United States yielded data on the experiences of the respondents before, during, and after their lives with Boko Haram. Based on the analysis of interview responses and field notes, several themes emerged. Overall findings suggest that family and community dynamics play a significant role in terrorism in Nigeria. The study found that early child marriage and the lack of access to education increase the vulnerability of girls to abductions by Boko Haram, which in turn contributes to participation in terrorism. Contrary to prior scholarship, the findings do not suggest that economic and political factors are primary drivers of female participation in terrorism in Nigeria. Instead, they support an indirect link to the fragility of state framework because poverty and economic hardship drive the lack of educational and employment opportunities, which is associated with terrorism. Boko Haram members take control over the most disadvantaged and vulnerable victims and, through direct threats or non-consensual marriage, force these women to succumb to their pressure. Respondents reported facing barriers to reintegration back into the community, although those with more education tended to fare better. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for future research and counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria.





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