Behind the Numbers: Understanding Boko Haram’s Reign of Terror in Nigeria

A student stands in a burnt classroom burnt by the Islamist group Boko Haram to keep children away from school in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria, May 12, 2012. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/GettyImages)

A student stands in a burnt classroom burnt by the Islamist group Boko Haram to keep children away from school in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria, May 12, 2012. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/GettyImages)

By Adotei Akwei and Caroline Courtney

“They used to train girls how to shoot guns. I was among the girls trained to shoot. I was also trained how to use bombs and how to attack a village. They’ll dress us and demonstrate to us how to explode a bomb. This training went on for 3 weeks after we arrived. Then they started sending some of us to operations. I went on one operation to my own village.” –Aisha (age 19)

Imagine waking up one morning, preparing for a friend’s wedding just before you are kidnapped, forced into “marriage” with one of your abductors and held captive in a remote camp hundreds of miles from home.

In these camps you witness brutal executions, are required to convert to an unfamiliar religion, and threatened into killing on behalf of an atrocious armed militant group. Sexual violence is an everyday occurrence.

2,000.

What might sound like a fictitious Hollywood plot to some is all too real for others. This is the story of Aisha, whose real name will be withheld for security reasons. Aisha is one of the estimated 2000 girls who have been abducted by Boko Haram and one of the few who have escaped.

276.

One year ago, the world was left in shock after the abduction of 276 girls from to town of Chibok, Nigeria. Unfortunately, the horror of these abductions is just one aspect of an insurgency that has been devastating Nigerian communities long before the story of the 276 Chibok girls became international news last year and continuing after the abductions occurred.

5,500.

Boko Haram militarized in 2009 and has been gradually claiming territory in the northeastern regions of Nigeria. Starting in 2014 and into 2015, the scale and quantity of the group’s attacks skyrocketed, resulting in the deaths of at least an estimated 5,500 civilians. Amnesty has documented several of these attacks, including the raid of Baga town on January 3rd,2015 when 2,000 people were killed and the attack on Bama in March where an estimated 5900 people were killed.

In March the Nigerian people made history by sweeping out incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and electing former head of State Muhammadu Buhari, who vowed to crush Boko Haram. The Jonathan administration was widely criticized for its failure to stop the insurgency and restore peace and security to the northeast states most impacted by the conflict.

It is critical that the international community press President-Elect Buhari to follow up on his campaign promises to not only free the Chibok girls, but to restore the rule of law and protection of human rights in the north as well as throughout the country. The violence of Boko Haram is just one challenge that must be addressed by the new leadership in Abuja and these challenges will not be solved by military means.

Aisha deserves to live in a country where she can go to school without fear, where one’s religion does not mean a death sentence and where her government is willing to invest in the safety of its people.

365.

We cannot wait another year to free the Chibok Girls and end violence against women and girls in Nigeria.

For more information, read the Amnesty International report “Our jobs were to shoot slaughter and kill” on Boko Haram’s reign of terror in northeastern Nigeria.

Arrested and Beaten for Wearing Trousers: Stop the Public Flogging of Women in Sudan!

Three Sudanese women, one of them wearing trousers, walk on a main street in central Khartoum on September 8, 2009. The thousands of women who wear trousers every day all run the risk of a flogging if police decide their clothes are provocative. ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images

Three Sudanese women, one of them wearing trousers, walk on a main street in central Khartoum on September 8, 2009. The thousands of women who wear trousers every day all run the risk of a flogging if police decide their clothes are provocative. ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images

By Amal Habani, Winner of Amnesty International USA’s 2015 Ginetta Sagan Award

In July 2009 when my colleague was arrested and tried for wearing trousers in Khartoum, I could no longer stay silent.

Women and girls in Sudan are constantly confronted with obstacles imposed by the public order regime that hinder their freedom of movement, their freedom of association, and their ability to make personal choices on a daily basis.  As a Sudanese woman, I had always encountered these problems and as such, aspired to become a journalist to speak out for social change.

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Women Get the Short End of the Stick in Iran and Can’t Even Protest

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As if it weren’t bad enough. Iranian women face persistent systemic discrimination in terms of family law. New legislation being considered by Iran’s parliament is intended to roll back many of the gains women have made in the past decades and consign them to being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

And on top of that, if they dare to protest about the inequities they suffer, they are sentenced to long prison terms, to be served in prisons where unsanitary conditions and medical neglect can quickly undermine their health. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What’s next for women’s rights? Have your say!

 

IWD-WRRHR5This month we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 and the kick-off of the 59th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Both of these events happen every year. But this year is special.

2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the landmark framework on women’s health and rights. This is where our rallying cry, “women’s rights are human rights,” originated (though the concept has been around a lot longer than 20 years!). It’s also the basis of our My Body My Rights campaign, which seeks to accelerate progress on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights, issues that still have a long way to go. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

International Violence Against Women Act Reintroduced and Time is Ticking!

Violence devastates the lives of millions of women and girls worldwide every year (Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images)

Violence devastates the lives of millions of women and girls worldwide every year (Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images)

There’s little doubt that you’ve repeatedly heard about the incessant global epidemic of violence against women and girls; I am certain you’ve seen one too many horrific headlines highlighting unthinkable instances of gender-based violence around the world.

Like me, you’re also undoubtedly distressed by the violence and simultaneously weary of the struggle to end it. It is overwhelming and daunting to grasp how we can work to effectively end this widespread human rights abuse.

But we cannot give up on our efforts. With every day that passes, violence continues to devastate the lives of countless more women and girls in every part of the world. We must continue to push for a solution. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

For Women’s Rights Defenders: Every Day is International Women’s Day

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Each year on International Women’s Day, the world celebrates the acts of courage and determination of women worldwide.  It’s a global celebration of the accomplishments, legacy, and rights of women.

What International Women’s Day also highlights, however, is the continued struggle for women’s rights.  And no one knows that better than women’s rights defenders like Bahareh Hedayat of Iran and Norma Cruz of Guatemala. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

One Billion Women and Girls Deserve Better

One Billion Rising event in New Delhi on February 14, 2014. The One Billion Rising campaign is a global call for an end to violence against women and girls and that survivors should receive justice. PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

One Billion Rising event in New Delhi on February 14, 2014. The One Billion Rising campaign is a global call for an end to violence against women and girls and that survivors should receive justice. PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

By: Cindy Ko, Ending Violence Against Women Fellow; DC Legislative Coordinator

This Valentine’s Day, show your love for humanity and demand change for women and girls: join Amnesty International and V-Day, a global movement dedicated to ending gender-based violence, for the annual One Billion Rising Revolution campaign to end violence against women and girls. In a world populated with over 7 billion people, one in three women will be physically, sexually, or otherwise abused during her lifetime: that’s a staggering one billion women and girls who have experienced violence. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

One Vote Made the Difference for Guadalupe!

The hands of Beatriz who almost died waiting for permission to terminate a pregnancy that could have killed her.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the very urgent social media action to free Guadalupe!

Guadalupe is one of 17 Salvadoran women who were sentenced to 12 to 40 years in prison after suffering miscarriages. The only legal option left for these women is a pardon. Last week, the Salvadoran National Assembly failed to approve a pardon for Guadalupe by just one vote. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

How Did the State of the Union Stack Up On Human Rights?

Obama Travels To Connecticut To Advocate Passing Of Stricter Gun Laws

During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama touched on issues of national security, criminal justice reform, immigration policy and women’s health, all of which involve human rights.

It is important to promote awareness of these issues as part of the US national conversation. But as always, the proof is in the pudding. So how do President Obama’s words stack up against actions?

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#DearObama: 3 Steps to Advance Rights of Women and Girls in Your State of the Union

U.S. President Barack Obama (C), joined by (L-R) Vice Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington State Deborah Parker, Attorney General Eric Holder, Vice President Joseph Biden, trafficking survivor Tysheena Rhames, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Director of Public Policy of Casa de Esperanza Rosemary Hidalgo-McCabe, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Police Chief James Johnson of Baltimore County in Maryland, and Executive Director of New York City Anti-Violence Project Police Department Sharon Stapel, signs the Violence Against Women Act into law at the Department of the Interior March 7, 2013 in Washington, DC. The law expands protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Obama, , joined by Vice Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington State Deborah Parker, trafficking survivor Tysheena Rhames, Police Chief James Johnson of Baltimore County in Maryland, and Executive Director of New York City Anti-Violence Project Police Department Sharon Stapel, and members of Congress and his adminstration, signs the Violence Against Women Act into law March 7, 2013. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.

Dear Mr. President,

This State of the Union, will you make women’s rights a priority?

Women across the world—including here in the U.S.—experience horrific levels of violence. 1 of 3 women globally will be raped, beaten, or otherwise abused in their lifetime, and you, Mr. President, can help end this epidemic.

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