News / Africa

Q&A With Rep. Schakowsky: Boko Haram's Violence Against Women Must Be Stopped

FILE - Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, (C) joins immigration reform supporters as they block a street on Capitol Hill in Washington, August 2013.
FILE - Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, (C) joins immigration reform supporters as they block a street on Capitol Hill in Washington, August 2013.
VOA News
Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) entered Congress more than 15 years ago. She is a senior member of the House Democratic Leadership, and is a member of the Steering and Policy Committee. She serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, where she is ranking democrat on the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade panel, and on the House Intelligence Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she is ranking democrat on the oversight committee.

She is particularly passionate about protecting the rights of women, especially combating what seems to be an epidemic of sexual violence. She recently introduced the International Violence Against Women Act, designed to create a comprehensive strategy to deter violence against women and girls abroad. This bill would give the U.S. State Department new tools, ranging from health programs and survivor services to legal reforms to promote economic opportunities and education for women.

The act also would increase funding humanitarian funding and update mechanisms for responding to emerging outbreak of violence, which seems all the more urgent in light of the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Schakowsky discussed the situation with Boko Haram in Nigeria with VOA's Carol Castiel on the Press Conference USA program.

Castiel: What specific measures are you proposing to fight gender-based violence?

Schakowsky: First of all because I know we are talking to an international audience, I want to be perfectly clear that we haven't solved this issue at home, and I'm acutely aware of that. It's not only, you mentioned some violence against women in the military, which is far too prevalent, we're also seeing violence against women on college campuses around the country.

We have a lot of work to do here at home, but as women that are often more empowered than our sisters around the world, it seems that we can take some of the principles of our violence against women act here at home and pass the International Violence Against Women Act.

The good news about the legislation is that we do have bipartisan support, Republicans and Democrats, and it would make as a priority of United States foreign policy, dealing with issues like gender violence and discrimination against women around the world, address the status of women in many countries, which puts them at a place where they're actually sold.

And it's so incredible what we're seeing right now going on in Nigeria. Boko Haram translates into "no Western-style education." That is an organization, really a terrorist organization against educating girls, to the point that they have been kidnapped. Its leader has bragged on camera that they are being sold -- apparently some for $12 -- even across borders.

And that, fortunately, has evoked international outrage. And here in the United States, a team has been sent now to Nigeria to provide the expertise to rescue those girls, and hopefully to work with the Nigerian government -- to go after that organization and its leader, and treat him as the criminal and outlier and terrorist he is -- in an appropriate fashion.

Castiel: What would the International Violence Against Women Act do?

Schakowsky: This would become a priority, certainly under the category of emergence situations that would spark action by the United States government, Fortunately, this administration has done just that.

Castiel: Speaking of the situation with the Nigerian girls, as bad as it is, do you think it can be a catalyst to spur the legislation further?

Schakowsky: I saw one news account that the response of the United States government is also a reflection of increased power of women in the congress. We have 20 women in the Senate, 79 women in the House of Representatives, so we're just short of a 100, 99. Some of the women listening around the world may know that their parliaments and their legislatures are actually doing better in terms of the number of women.

But I think that the growing power and influence of women in our country has moved this to the top of the agenda, perhaps even more quickly, and I'm hoping that also will spur the kind of sense of urgency on the International Violence Against Women Act. And we're certainly following up on that, trying to get more women and more men in the Congress to sign on as co-sponsors of the bill and to move it.

Castiel: Speaking of the emergency in Nigeria, are you satisfied with the level of technical assistance the U.S. has pledged or should we be doing more, not only to help the Nigerian military find the girls, but also to combat Boko Haram?

Schakowsky: Yes, I would like to see even more activity. Let's see what happens in the next day or so, but it's already now been weeks that these girls have been kidnapped. This is the most shocking thing in a way that I've seen. I've been to Eastern Congo.

I've certainly seen the systematic rape of women, and rape used, as you mentioned, as a weapon of war. It's low tech, low cost. It destroys villages by tearing families and communities apart, and certainly undermines countries. But as a single event, the brazen abduction of these hundreds of girls - the "crime" being that they have gone to school -- is just, I think, in some ways a wake-up call for the entire world.


(Click here to listen to the full interview on Press Conference USA)

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dan Slezak from: Cleveland, Ohio
May 16, 2014 1:05 AM
This woman says she has been to the Congo and seen the systematic rape of women. I cant help but wonder if she saw any men or boys. Oh, that's right because their all DEAD! I think I would much rather be captured alive, with a possibility of escape/rescue than to be butchered. Her IVAWA wont even be deployed until after the fact. That just goes to show how much they care about innocent men and boys. A girls education is more important than a boys life. We cant even educate our boys over here, so lets commit resources to girls over there. Its not just the girls being deprived of an education, the boys aren't getting one either. I've only seen one MSM article about the slaughtering of those "students", and it was written by a female. You people should be ashamed!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid