Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Grand Duchess Meets with Former Captive

©2016 Cour grand-ducale/ Olivier Polet / tous droits réservés.
©2016 Cour grand-ducale/ Olivier Polet / tous droits réservés.
©2016 Cour grand-ducale/ Olivier Polet / tous droits réservés.

While attending an UNESCO round table event about extremism and radicalization Grand Duchess Maria Teresa met a young Nigerian woman who escaped after being held captive by Boko Haram militants. The young woman is Assiatou and her story is the subject of the book "Enlevee par Boko Haram" which was written with the assistance of Mina Kaci. Assiatou was initially skeptical of meeting the Grand Duchess because of her royal status but soon warmed to her and the Grand Duchess later invited Assiatou to come to Luxembourg.

On Tuesday Assiatou participated in two events in Luxembourg. She met with the Grand Duchess and a small party at the palace and she spoke with students at the Lycee technique du Centre. While speaking to the students she read parts of her book and spoke of her kidnapping and what it was like to be forced into "marriage" at 14 to a much older man only serve as a sex slave. It was a very emotional event for both Assiatou and the students. The Grand Duchess praised her courage by stating that "Assiatou represents to me the symbol of the young girls who dare to denounce violence by terrorist groups that use their bodies as a battlefield and prevent them access to education".Assiatou has been reunited with her family. They live under protection in Niger where Assiatou has returned to school and plans to become a medical doctor. The proceeds from the book recounting Assiatou's ordeal are used to support her family.

The Grand Duchess is an UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and together with Queen Rania of Jordan is an Eminent Advocate for Children.

Assiatou's face is always purposely obscured in photographs to protect her identity.

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