Boko Haram's Latest Attacks Target Boys

nigerian-school-boys-walking-home-photo-by-juju-films.jpg

DORON, BAGA, Nigeria -- Sunday, Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped dozens of boys from the Nigerian village of Doron Baga. During the raid on the village, suspected Boko Haram dressed in police and military uniforms burned several houses and terrorized citizens while forcing boys and men into awaiting trucks. When the terror ended, 97 people were unaccounted for.

Most were men and boys, although 20 women were also included in the missing.

Security forces from neighboring Chad were able to intercept the group, freeing some of the abducted. However, many were forced onto speed boats in Lake Chad, which is bordered by Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

During the initial attack, witnesses described confusion and sporadic shooting amongst yells of "Allah Akbar" or "God is greatest." Those that could fled to the city of Maiduguri, leaving their village and their boys almost 100 miles behind them. Other refugees through either choice or lack of transportation stayed closer to what was once home.

The attacks came four months after the abduction of 300 schoolgirls in the village of Chibok. In the recent gender-based attacks, women, girls, and the very young were mostly spared. The Boko Haram first came for brides and sex slaves, then came for fighters.

Boko Haram attacks have increased over the past year, stretching the Nigerian police force to its limit and proving that the terrorist group is not limited to only one area of the country.

Follow Sarah on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @SJJakubowski

Related articles

Opposition to Child Marriage in Pakistan Gains Momentum

girls-in-school-in-khyber-pakhtunkhwa-pakistan-by-dfid-uk-department-for-international-development.jpg

PAKISTAN - Child marriages are a major and disturbing problem in Pakistan and elsewhere. Eleven percent of the world's children will be married before the age of 15 -- amounting to over 2 million child brides. In Pakistan 7% of girls married are under the age of 15, according to UNICEF. This number may be higher as there are many unreported cases. However, there has been an increased effort to raise awareness and lower these numbers.

Former prime minister and UN education official Gordon Brown proposes "child marriage-free zones' in Pakistan. One of his concerns about child marriage is that not many girls are able to finish school. This leads to few women being able to be productive and influential members of society, which in turn makes it harder for them to help other girls escape forced marriage. Brown aims to break this cycle.

He wants teachers and girls to work together to fight child marriage. He wants girls to know their rights and feel empowered enough to stand up to those trying to force them into marriage. Brown is also working to raise global awareness and commitment. The UN is giving 10 million dollars and the EU is giving 100 million euros (about 138 million dollars) to the cause. The message they are trying to send is that it is important that all children need to be educated, and there is international support to make this happen.

The fight against child marriage in Pakistan also has internal support, notably from legislator Marvi Memon. Ms. Memon is a conservative politician and businesswoman, serving as the central and public figure of the Pakistan Muslim League presided by Nawaz Sharif. She's introduced a bill to Pakistan's National Assembly that calls for stricter punishments to those involved with child marriage.

Currently the penalty for arranging child marriage is only $10 and a month in jail. Memon wants to raise that to $1000 and a two-year jail sentence.

She's facing opposition from the Council of Islamic Ideology. The CII says that marriages of anyone who's reached puberty, regardless of age, are acceptable under Islamic law. According to them any laws restricting marriage of girls who've reached puberty, including the minor punishments already in place, contradict the teachings of the Koran.

With the help of Islamic scholars, Memon wants to fight back by showing that Islam is supportive of women. Child marriage has health risks because child brides often conceive shortly after marriage. With their bodies not ready for pregnancy, there are often complications involving both mother and child. It does not go against Islamic law to try to prevent this.

If the bill is passed, it may be hard to enforce. Even with official government support, Pakistani police may be hesitant to interfere with what for many is a culturally acceptable norm.

Child marriage is not an easy-fix problem. But with Brown's campaign for education and global awareness and Memon's fight for stricter consequences, there is hope for the future of Pakistani girls.

Loss of Innocence for Syria’s Female Refugees

zaatari-refugee-camp-at-dusk-photo-by-emad-zyuob.jpg

Jessica Tanner, Staff WriterLast Modified: 15:44 p.m. DST, 1 July 2013

Mother and Child in Zaatari Refugee Camp, by Emad ZyuodThe Syrian women describe how even going to the bathroom in the Zaatari camps can be a threat. “There is no light, if we come in here there could be a guy hiding or something,” one of them says. None of the female refugees want to be identified. Their fear follows them, even as they seek refuge across the border in Jordan.

Zaatari is a refugee camp in Jordan, located 10 km east of Mafraq. It was first opened on July 28, 2012 to host Syrians fleeing the violence in the ongoing Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011.

According to Wikipedia, the camp population amounts to 19000-38000 refugees.

Even with the promise of “safety” for the female refugees, there is still another catch. Many of Syria’s female population have had to trade fear of death in their homeland for fear of something much worse: rape.

There have been various threats of sexual harassment and rape in the Zaatari camp – teeming with masses that continue to stream across the border. This crisis has resulted in a disturbing growing phenomenon: “sutra” marriages, or marriages for protection.

Many families who feel like they are unable to protect their female family members are marrying them off for their own safety. The majority of families are saying that they had no other alternatives.

According to one Syrian mother, “I swear I wasn’t able to sleep, I was afraid for the girls. I swear to God, I would not have let her get married this young if we were in Syria.”

Although the international community refuses to end the conflict in Syria, there is a solution to preventing the exploitation of the Syrian female population: more aid.

According to another Syrian mother, “We left Syria to escape death and we found something worse than death. If we had stayed in Syria to die it would have been more honorable. There death is fast, here it is slow.

Follow Jessica Tanner on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @JessTanner1991

National Geographic Live! : Too Young to Wed

child-brides-photo-by-stephanie-sinclair.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:33 AM EDT, 10 July 2012

Many of the post that we feature deal with human rights abuses and in particular women’s rights abuses, as in the case of yesterday’s report of the Afghan woman who was executed. There is no justification for what happened to Najiba; however, to every story there is a back story, and though most people are unable to get beyond the emotional outrage of the act, including me, we often miss the underlying sociological constraints that actuate these reprehensible events.

That is why we have chosen to present this National Geographic video which highlights the work of photographer Stephanie Sinclair and writer Cynthia Gorney who together investigated the world of prearranged child marriage, where girls as young as five who live in remote regions of India, Ethiopia and Yemen among other places, are forced to wed and bear children.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c_zppPutQw&feature=related]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 “Born in 1973, Sinclair is an American photojournalist known for gaining unique access to the most sensitive gender and human rights issues around the world. Sinclair was recently awarded the Alexia Foundation Professional Grant, UNICEF's Photo of the Year and the Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism Freelens Award for her extensive work on the issue of child marriage. She contributes regularly to National Geographic, The New York Times Magazine, TIME, Newsweek, Stern, German Geo and Marie Claire among others, and is based in Brooklyn, NY.” (Source: Stephanie Sinclair)

Though we would like to rush in like lions, we have seen time and again this approach is as effective as waving a proverbial magic wand and casting a spell to make the whole situation disappear. We all know this is not possible, but the video above provides compelling insight into why efforts to change abhorrent cultural practices via external pressure has ubiquitously failed.

Afghan Girl's Nose Cut Off By Abusive Husband

tortured-afghan-woman.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 11:37 AM EDT, 13 February 2012

AFGHANISTAN - Most often, we in the West are exposed to and challenged by an increased number of news stories of the heinous, misogynistic treatment of women and young girls all in other parts of the world.

Thankfully, there are a cadre of people and organizations dedicated to bringing greater public awareness to these gross injustices and when possible physically intervening in the lives of these women to improve their conditions or alleviate their suffering.

In an earlier post Nujood Ali a young Yemeni girl speaks of her ordeal as a child bride and the abuse she suffered. Now, we are privy to the suffering of another young teenager; an Afghan girl who was horribly mutilated by her husband under Taliban rule. Last year Bibi Aisha was horribly disfigured by her husband who cut off her nose.  Last week, there was report of another Afghan girl who was beaten for refusing to submit to prostitution.

Unfortunately, these stories are becoming more common, but Aisha, 19, has become the face of this heinous behavior.  In the summer of 2010, she shocked the world when she appeared on the cover of Time Magazine vividly displaying her severed nose. When Aisha was 12, her father promised her in marriage to a Taliban fighter to pay a debt. She was handed over to his family who abused her and forced her to sleep in the stable with the animals.

When she tried to run away, she was caught by her husband who brutally hacked off her nose and both ears, before leaving her for dead in the mountains. Subsequent to her return to consciousness, she crawled down the mountain to her grandfather's house. Later, her father arranged to have her treated at an American medical facility where she remained for the next 10 weeks.

Once she was stable, she was transported to a secret shelter in Kabul and in August she was flown to the U.S. by the Grossman Burn Foundation to stay with a host family. Last week she returned to the public stage wearing a new prosthetic nose - one that gives her some idea of how she will look after having reconstructive surgery.

Aisha received the Enduring Heart award at a benefit for the Grossman Burn Foundation - the Los Angeles-based organisation that paid for her surgery. She was given the award by California first lady Maria Shriver. Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife told the audience: 'This is the first Enduring Heart award given to a woman whose heart endures and who shows us all what it means to have love and to be the enduring heart.'

This month after extensive counseling for her traumatic experience, she finally received a prosthetic nose fitted at the non-profit humanitarian Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital in California as part of her eight-month rehabilitation. Dr Peter H. Grossman said they hoped to reconstruct Aisha's nose and ears using bone, tissue and cartilage from other parts of her body.

Dr Grossman's wife Rebecca, the chair of the Grossman Burn Foundation, said Aisha was just one of the thousands of women who are treated with appalling harshness. She said: 'Aisha is reminded of that enslavement every time she looks in the mirror. But there are still times she can laugh. And at that moment you see her teenage spirit escaping a body that has seen a lifetime of injustice.'

The UN estimates that nearly 90 per cent of Afghanistan's women suffer from some sort of domestic abuse.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter

Twitter:

@nahmias_report

Editor:

@ayannanahmias

Related articles

Virgin Cleansing Myth

child-bride-photo-by-nicole-hinrich.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:16 PM EDT, 9 February 2012

Photo by Nicole Hinrichs - All Rights ReservedNEW DELHI, India – Yesterday we wrote about the scandal of three Indian politicians watching pornography during a parliament session. Today, Indian is once again in the news but in a slightly more positive light.

South African peace activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Noble Peace Prize winner, is now chairman of ‘The Elders.” This group is comprised of prominent people of diverse backgrounds and heritage who are dedicated to addressing humanitarian issues from around the world.

Tutu, 80, is spearheading a global movement called “Girls Not Brides” which is aimed at ending child marriages. We have focused a lot of attention on this issue because this practice has such a deleterious impact on its victims. Child brides are subjected to rape, fistulas, physical and psychological abuse, and murder often condoned by the community as the right of the husband because of a lack of a dowry or as an honor killing.

Tutu told Reuters late Wednesday that "India is doing fantastically.” But intimated that the country’s growth and role as a significant world player could increase exponentially if it “enlisted the participation of 50 percent of the population,’ which means Women. The problem of marginalization, discrimination, abuse and murder of women is not unique to India.

Child marriages are most prevalent in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, but also occurs in the United States. Though many countries have laws on the books prohibiting this practice, most of the families that engage in this type of behavior live in remote regions of the country where the police have, in their opinion, more pressing concerns than what they consider to be a ‘family matter.’

According to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), “100 million girls will be married before the age of 18 in the coming decade. Most will be in sub-Saharan Africa countries, some of which are (Mali, DRC, Mozambique, Eritrea, Ethiopia) and the Asian Subcontinent countries, some of which are (Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). In Niger, for example, 74.5% of women in their early 20s were married as children. In Bangladesh, 66.2% were. Child marriage also occurs in parts of the world including the United States and the Middle East. (Source: ICRW)

According to UNICEF, an estimated 14 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year. Because their bodies have not fully developed they are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth as women in their 20s. Girls who marry between the ages of 10 and 14 are five times as likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth, and their infants are 60 percent more likely to die. (Source: UNICEF)

In India, 47 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 are married before the legal age of 18 according to the government's latest National Family Health Survey. Tutu, who is traveling in India with other Elders, including former Irish President Mary Robinson and Gro Harlem Brundtland, who was Norway's first prime minister, believes that this type of inequality is a definite impediment to increased socioeconomic development.

Tutu has been a vociferous campaigner on the issues of fighting HIV/AIDS, an epidemic that has plagued his own country, South Africa. In numerous interviews he asserts his belief that girls married off to older men, have little control over their sex lives and thus are more likely to be infected by HIV/AIDS as a consequence.

This is especially true in South Africa, where older men who lack access to proper healthcare resort to raping female babies and infant girls. This abhorrent practice is known as the Virgin Cleansing Myth “that if a man infected with HIV, AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases has sex with a virgin girl, he will be cured of his disease.(Source: Wikipedia)

There are many issues that must be addressed worldwide in an effort to achieve gender equality.  We don’t believe that ‘gender equality’ equates with ‘gender sameness.’ Women and men are uniquely created to complement each other and we believe this is healthy. It is only when one or the other, but in the case of this post, when a man chooses to exert control over a woman and to rob her of her natural right to self-determination, that we must stand up in one voice and denounce the perpetrators.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Tutu, The Elders, and NGOs are doing their part to increase global awareness of the practice of child marriages. We can support these campaigns at a grassroots level through donations, writing and blogging about this issue, or just reaching out to a woman in need in your community. To achieve gender equality at all levels of society we must do all that we can in support of the development of 50 percent of humanity. Women.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias

Fistula: The Scourge of Child Brides

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:40 PM EDT, 6 September 2011

Child Bride Streets of Calcutta by BrajeshwarIn many countries around the world, young girls are being forced into marriage by their families or society. These marriages are less about religious practices than the economic needs of the families into which these girls are born.

Across the continent of Africa, Middle East and Europe, marrying off young girls is a common practice and in the Amhara region of Ethiopia some girls are married as young as five years old. It is reported that close to half Amharan girls are married before their 15th birthday.

On November 2, 2010, Anna Nicholas reported in the Telegraph about a 10-year old Romanian girl who had given birth to a healthy baby in a hospital in Jerez de La Frontera in southwest Spain.  According to a 2010 poll conducted by Unicef over 64 million women around the world between the ages of 20-24 were married before the age of 18, and in the next ten years over 100 million girls who are under the age of 18 will be married.

Among the many adverse consequences of underage girls being married are a lack of education as most are forced to leave school if they were lucky enough to have had the opportunity to attend, decreased autonomy and ability to make decisions for themselves and their children. Additionally, girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24, according to the United Nations.

According to the Mayo Clinic,  rectovaginal fistula are a form of injury caused during childbirth.  This type of injury include tears in the perineum that extend to the bowel and anal sphincter, the rings of muscle at the end of the rectum that helps hold in stool.  Complete pelvic bone development occurs around 21, so when girls whose hips are too small for the baby's head to pass through, it presses down on her pelvic bone, cutting off blood supply and causing the tissue to die. The resulting hole causes urinal or fecal incontinence.

Fistula affects 2 million women around the world, mostly in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.  In the West this embarrassing and unhealthy condition was virtually eradicated in the 19th century with the discovery of Caesarean sections.  Although, this procedure also has its opponents and risks, the quality of life for women who for medical reasons cannot deliver vaginally is greatly improved.

For women suffering from fistulas, the uncontrolled leakage of feces and urine often results in abandonment by their husbands and the inability to find another protector because they are deemed unclean.  A Kenyan woman was recently interviewed about the negative impact her fistula has had on her life.

She said "people would ask who is making that bad smell, coughing and covering their noses. So I was always isolating myself."  Since she was too poor to buy sanitary pads, she stuffed her underwear with rags but the feces still leaked onto her clothes, forcing her to wash them several times a day. She often doused herself in perfume to hide the smell and endured painful attempts by a midwife who tried to suture the hole four times without success.

After years of suffering shame and isolation, she was fortunate enough to receive an operation at Kenyatta National Hospital's 15-day "fistula camp" which resulted in her complete recovery and the reclamation of her life.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dyg_ENqvnpk&feature=related]

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Enhanced by Zemanta