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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs