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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs