News / Africa

Rights Advocates: Kidnapping, Rape of Women and Girls Too Common

A woman attends a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped Chibok school girls, outside the defense headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, May 6, 2014.
A woman attends a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped Chibok school girls, outside the defense headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, May 6, 2014.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis

The abduction of more than 200 young girls from a school in northern Nigeria by the militant group Boko Haram has been big news in recent months.  But human rights advocates respond that this type of violence against women and young girls is nothing new.

In fact, kidnapping is one of the many forms of violence regularly practiced against women and young girls in developing countries. Other abuses include rape, sex trafficking, child marriages and child prostitution.

“The abduction of girls, use, misuse, abuse, selling of girls is a fairly wide practice,” said Michele Rickett, founder and chief executive officer of “She is Safe,” an organization that rescues and rehabilitates women and girls who are victims of abuse. “And, it’s only exacerbated under conflict, or - as in the case of the Boko Haram - they’re sort of combining purposes.”

Rickett is the author of “Forgotten Girls,” a newly released book that chronicles the lives of victims. The author has lived in and traveled to some of the most high-risk areas of the globe, and knows first-hand the plight of the abused women and girls.

“Often, when soldiers or terrorists of any kind go through a village, they will torch the village, take the boys and train them to kill, but take the girls and use them to do their cooking and cleaning, and for sex as well.  So, that’s a pretty common practice wherever you see conflict in the world,” the author said.

Rickett said the often conflict-as-usual attitude of mistreating women was different with the April 2014 abduction of the Nigerian schoolgirls because of the advantage of the unexpected voices of the mothers of the girls. They were not going to remain silent.

“There was more than two weeks after the girls were abducted that the government really began to respond to the needs.  And it was because the mothers were rallying and gathering others. So, I think that gives us a little clue how to keep the issues alive, even though it might be in a war or conflict as usual, in the abuse of girls,” remarked Rickett.   

The mothers’ cries for the return of their daughters was heard around the world and many others joined in the call for their return. Other voices included human rights advocates, political figures, and celebrities.

Rickett says the public outcry was a sign that people do care about what is happening to women and girls in developing countries and conflict regions; That is the passion that will raise awareness to the urgency of breaking the cycle of violence.

The women’s rights advocate also pointed out the need for more programs to help women and girls cope with mental and emotional trauma that comes with being repeatedly abused.

“The post- traumatic stress on these girls really does call for a concerted effort for after-care -- to get them into a safe and predictable location where they can receive physical nourishment, emotional nourishment. And for their broken spirits to be healed as well,” Rickett said.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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