Week 12: Girl Power in Nigeria

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I was surprised to read about the social injustices, including barbaric acts, that women face in SSA still. Here in the US, we still have not reached gender equality, but SSA remains very far behind us in their progress of empowerment for women.

A big issue that we read about was female “circumcision” in Africa. Female Genital Mutilation is not only an act of torture-like pain proportions, it can permanently damage women’s health through scarring, inability to bear children, infection and disease.

In addition, rape and sex-trafficking for both females and children are issues in existence in SSA. It makes me sick to think that humans can do these horrendous acts to other humans. SSA needs trailblazers to bind together and make these issues not only not accepted by society, but totally eliminated. Women make up half of the population, so by educating them and making them realize they have the power to stand up to this issues is vital.

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Others realize the power that education could bring to women, and will go to extreme measures to make sure it doesn’t happen. On April 15 in southern Nigeria, dozens of heavily-armed terrorists part of a Muslim group called Boko Haram (which translates to “western education is a sin”) opened fire on the dormitory of a boarding school for girls. The girls, between the ages of 15 and 18 and a mix of Christians and Muslims, had been asleep in the dormitory, and then were herded out by the terrorists, a massive act of human-trafficking. While 50 girls escaped, 276 of them vanished to an unknown place and remain missing. Sickeningly, the Nigerian government has done nothing to find these girls.

The attack in Nigeria is part of a global backlash against girls’ education by extremists. The Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head at age 15 because she advocated for girls’ education. Extremists threw acid in the faces of girls walking to school in Afghanistan. And in Nigeria, militants destroyed 50 schools last year alone.

Nigeria has an organization in place whose entire focus is to protect gender, health and human rights for not only Nigeria, but all of SSA, called Women’s Consortium of Nigeria. This is a non-political and non-profit association, “committed to the enhancement of the status of women and related feminist goals and ideals” which is committed in helping women obtain peace and equality. The WOCON was started in 1995 by someone who is surely rendered as a cheetah, Bisi Olateru-Olagbegi, because she was concerned about women’s rights in Nigeria and the gender persecution and the violations of their human rights that they face.

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The organization uses Pro Bono services, which offer free legal services for victims of gender abuse. The organization is a member of the Transition Monitoring Group, a coalition of NGOs in Nigeria that focus on elections in order to achieve sustainable Democracy in the country.

Steps are being taken elsewhere, too. In the video we watched for this week, it talked about how a Dutch organization caught 20,000 men trying to have sex with what they thought to be a 10-year-old girl on the internet, which was actually a computer program. The names of those individuals were given to the police to investigate.

Sources:

Kristof, Nicholas. “‘Bring Back Our Girls’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 May 2014. Web. 09 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/opinion/sunday/kristof-bring-back-our-girls.html?_r=0&gt;.

“Gender Rights.” Welcome. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2014. <http://www.womenconsortiumofnigeria.org/node/13&gt;.

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