News / Africa

Nigerian Activists Say Kidnapping of Women, Girls All Too Common

Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima (c), addresses demonstrators who were calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped schoolgirls of the Chibok secondary school, in Abuja, Nigeria, May 13, 2014.
Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima (c), addresses demonstrators who were calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped schoolgirls of the Chibok secondary school, in Abuja, Nigeria, May 13, 2014.
Heather Murdock
Nigerian activists say the kidnapping of more than 300 schoolgirls in the north a month ago was no isolated incident. The abduction of women and girls in Nigeria is a much larger problem, they say, and kidnappers are almost never are punished. 
 
A protest of a couple hundred people in the Nigerian capital on Tuesday got heated after Borno State governor Kashim Shettima spoke. A month after the girls were kidnapped from Borno, Islamist militants known as Boko Haram are holding more than 250 in a forest hideout.
 
Shettima explained part of the reason the girls are still missing. “In an insurgency operation like we are currently undergoing it is terrorists that are setting the place of the war. They are people who know the terrain very well. They are the one who are setting the agenda so naturally they tend to have the upper hand,” he said.

He said the abduction of the girls from Chibok town last month was not the first time Boko Haram has attempted to kidnap large groups of children from their schools, it was just the first time they were not stopped.
 
Borno residents say Boko Haram has long been kidnapping women and girls and forcing them to be their so-called wives.  
 
The group said it wants to install its harsh version of Islamic law in Nigeria, but some analysts say its operations appear to be geared more towards wanton destruction than imposing an ideology.
 
Outside the governor’s office some activists say the kidnapping is part of a larger problem in Nigeria, where the abduction of women and girls goes largely unpunished.
 
Actress Dorothy Njemanze narrowly escaped abduction in Abuja two years ago, after she was beaten and molested.  “Now we are here talking about another spate of abductions because other spates of abductions were not spoken against.  They were encouraged by the government’s silence and we have yet another dimension to abductions.  Honestly, my heart is broken,” she said.

Kidnapping is also on the rise again in the Niger Delta, an oil-rich region in the south where militants have risen up against oil companies and the government several times, said lawyer Fillis Obasohan.
 
In his office in Warri, a run-down oil city, Obasohan said kidnap victims in the Niger Delta tend to be adults taken for ransom.
 
But he said the problem continues for much the same reason as in the north. Even when kidnappers are caught and arrested, they are hardly ever convicted, he said.
 
“There are a few ones on trial but for a conviction that has not been really a strong one,” stated Obasohan.
 
Other activists demanding the rescue of the girls agree, but they say at this point they are not concerned with what happens after the girls are freed.
 
Media coordinator Rotimi Olaole is with the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, a loose coalition of activist groups organizing rallies, online and on the streets, demanding the safe return of the girls.
 
“What we want the most is that our girls come out alive. After that we are ready work with government to ensure that this does not happen again, and abductions are reduced to the barest minimum,” said Olaole.

Boko Haram released a video this week that included more than 100 kidnapped girls wearing Muslim headscarves.
 
The man who claimed to lead Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, said in a separate scene in the video he converted the girls to Islam and is willing to trade them for the return of some of his imprisoned members.
 
On Wednesday, the government reiterated that will "explore all options for the release and safe return" of the girls. 

Hilary Ugury contributed to this report from the Niger Delta

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More