The Forgotten Frontline: Women at War Zone: Nigeria’s case

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Soon after taking control of some Nigerian towns, Boko Haram would assemble the population and declare new rules with restrictions and limits to follow, particularly on women. Suffering, rape, forced marriage continuous stories of women tortured by this terrorist group.

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The 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok captured widespread global attention with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Though the missing school girls tell just a small part of the women and young girls torture by Boko Haram.

Following the shocking event of the missing girls, Amnesty International has elevated concerns on the countless number of cases when Nigerian security forces are not doing enough to defend civilians from human rights misuses and abuses committed by Boko Haram.

Girls and women abducted by the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram were forced to unwanted marriage and obligatory labor, rape, torture, psychological abuse and pressured religious conversion.

According to Amnesty International report, more than 2000 women and girls have been abducted and seized and held in militant camps of Boko Haram since 2014, some of them have been targeted because they are Christians and others because they didn’t follow the extremists religious rules, these women were victims of sexual slavery and were trained to kill.

Human Rights Watch collected testimony of the women who escaped Boko Haram’s camps, whom told about the extreme violence terror happening there. Many of the victims expressed that they were subjected to physical and psychological abuse; forced labor; forced participation in military actions, enforced marriage to the abductors; and sexual abuse and rape.

Most of abductions cases by Boko Haram were against Christian women and girls, and many of them have been threatened with death if they refused to convert to Islam.

More than 300 Nigerian women rescued by the Nigerian soldiers from Sambisa forest, where they were forced to witness the public execution of their husbands before whipping into the forest, where they were fed with dry ground corn once a day.

They were also raped, forced into unlawful marriages and stoned to death, some of them were killed unintentionally by the military during the rescue operations, and the soldiers did not recognize that those women were not the enemies but the victims.

Boko Haram forced its laws with harsh punishments on those not following the rules; women who failed to attend daily prayers were punished by public flogging.

The situation over Nigeria calls on the Nigerian government to adopt stronger strategies and measures to protect women and girls, provide help for the victims. The government must provide security forces to prevent abductions and respond more quickly when they happened. The Nigerian authorities have to investigate and prosecute those who commit these inhuman crimes, they need to protect schools and the right to education, and ensure access to medical and mental health services for victims of the abductions.

Sana AFOUAIZ

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The Forgotten Frontline: Women at War Zone: Yemen’s case

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In situations of war, women and children suffer some of the utmost health and social inequities. The effects of war go far yonder than the conflicts itself. They are the victims of human rights violations, suffering and death acts. At the end, women and children are supposed to bear the consequences of the war.

United Nations reports have shown three months after conflict flared up in Yemen, the violence is still escalating across the country. Over 2,800 people have been killed; over a million people have been exiled, with many enforced decisions by armed clatters, bombing and airstrikes.

Women have been unduly affected by the conflict. Their access to indispensable services, livelihood and protection needs were limited and have been complicated by gender inequalities.

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According to Amnesty International report, that highlighted that at least 6 children under the age of 10 were killed in airstrikes on Sana’a on 26th March, in wealthy nations, death cases like these are rare to happen and when it does, it makes headlines. This is simply one of many episodes where the innocent women and children of Yemen have paid the heavy price of the western-backed airstrikes and internal conflict of the country.
Yemenis women carried stories of sadness because of what war caused of social and economic consequences on their lives; some of them were forced to marry and others were victims of continues violence incidents. And they are supposed to accept these conditions as they have no other choice.
Violence was always a significant issue facing women in Yemen. In the country’s 2013 demographic and health survey, 92% of women claimed that violence against women most happened at home.
This current internal conflict in Yemen has even degenerated conditions for women. Many of Yemenis women are struggling on how to support and finance their families, when their husbands have gone to fight. Others have been exiled, with little or no access to health services, education and work opportunities.

As women and children are regularly the most pretentious by war-conflict, it is hence vital that women play a fundamental role in peace discussions and post-conflict renewal.
In Yemen’s conflict case, women continue to be absent from formal peace negotiations in Middle East and especially in Yemen. There is little space open for women to engross in peaceful protests, and this is not because women lack the resolution to fight for peace. But, it is the male-controlled mentality of Saudi-inspired Salafism that has detached women from participation in building the peaceful Yemeni society.
Meanwhile Yemeni women peace activists have been calling outside the country for an end to the fighting and the obstruction of necessary needs that has shaped an unrelenting humanitarian crisis.

The effects of war remain for years after the conflict ends. Women become widowed and children orphaned. Women face struggles to bear with livelihoods needs of their families.
The crucial role of women in development, peace, security and human rights cannot be denied, It is thus of countless importance that women should play a noteworthy role in limiting the effects of violence. Women must be actively engaged in the peace discussions process at the regional, national, and local level.

While women remain a minority, everyone will be suffering.

Sana AFOUAIZ

Why 2014 is a key subject of gender equality and women’s rights?

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Empowering women is not only a natural human right to achieve, but also smart economic objective and crucial to ending poverty and boosting economic development.

Let’s go back to the history, actually over the past few years; the incredible work of women’s movements across the world has brought some positive changes. Countries started to recognize the fact that it is necessary to meet the needs of the other half of the population (women) which is left out of education and work, and of course not included in decision-making.

The past 20 years were recognized by signing international agreements boosting the women’s rights situation. For example 1994 was marked by “the International Conference on Population and Development”, which shifted the importance on population control from government efforts to ensure family planning, to guarantee women’s empowerment and improve their lives. This initiative scrutinized issues like access to decent reproductive health services, sexual health advice and eliminate domestic violence and forced marriage.179 countries signed up to the 200 recommendations of the initiative. What a huge step!

Then there was “the Fourth World Conference on Women” committed to achieving gender equality by ensuring women’s involvement in public and private life and allowing them an equal voice in decision-making.

Last September, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson delivered a special speech for special event “HeForShe campaign” at the United Nations Headquarters, highlighting the importance of the participation of men in ending gender inequality.

But with all this success comes the backlash, since globally, about one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime, and more than 140 million women are estimated to be living with the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation. What are we going to do about this? Why is it too complicated to end up the issue of violence against women?

In 2010, a research by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (Awid) discovered that Women’s rights organizations are underfunded as the average annual of income of 740 organizations was about $20,000.

And regardless of numerous UN resolutions that indicate the necessity of women’s involvement in peace and reconciliation, women are still not included in peace talks.

According to World Health Organization, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. 30% of women who were in relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner. Globally, 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.

Shocking right? This is just the beginning.

Referring to the WHO, between 15% of women in Japan and 71% of women in Ethiopia stated physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, between 0.3–11.5% of women reported experiencing sexual violence by someone other than a partner since the age of 15 years; The first sexual experience for many women was reported as forced – 17% of women in rural Tanzania, 24% in rural Peru, and 30% in rural Bangladesh reported that their first sexual experience was forced.

Recent reviews of European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights showed that in Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day. In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’. In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners. In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

I’m asking you, how do you feel as a human being after reading this an unlimited numbers of killing, murdering, and violence? How could you, I and we do to change this?

When a woman is violated, this means lower levels of education attainment, health issues, exposure to child maltreatment, suffering from antisocial personality disorder, excluding from the society and development, and accepting the violence and gender inequality.

If the world does not address this issue, it is a waste of the massive potential of women and girls. When they feel safe, when they are empowered, women and girls can be change-makers. The innovators of tomorrow, the power behind stronger economies, and the leaders of a more just country but a whole world.

To end violence, governments need to accelerate their efforts to face this issue by endorsing legislation and developing policies that address discrimination against women; promote gender equality; and to help out to move towards more peaceful cultural norms.

Men need to show respect to women, beating your girlfriend, wife or sisters or any girl, doesn’t make you a man, but a violent.

Ladies, don’t you ever accept to be violated by anyone, don’t let the cultural forms control you as a human being, don’t let them enforce you to accept violence. It is your right to live a peaceful and respectful life.

Living free from violence is a human right, yet many women suffer excessively from violence both in peace and in war, in the home and community, in the city and the country side. Across the globe, women are beaten, raped, injured, and killed.

I hope that 2015 will be a key solution to end violence against women and not just a subject.

Your voice has power. Use it to help put an end to gender-based violence by supporting the International Violence against Women Act during #16Days of Activism!

Do something about it! Start now!

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Sana AFOUAIZ