9 July 2014, 17:48

She is Safe: A Counter to Boko Haram, Sex Trafficking & Other Threats

She is Safe: A Counter to Boko Haram, Sex Trafficking & Other Threats

By Crystal Park

WASHINGTON (VR) – Nigerian officials have confirmed 63 women and girls managed to escape their Boko Haram captors, AFP reports. Last month, 68 females were taken hostage in the north-east Borno state after a four-day battle between militants and villagers. Thirty men were killed.

The escaped females are from a different group than the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls whose kidnapping captured the world's attention in April. Despite the Nigerian and even American governments' promises to bring back the girls, there has been little to no progress in rescuing the girls.

Michele Rickett is the founder of She is Safe, an organization that seeks to prevent, rescue and restore girls from abuse and exploitation around the world. Rickett says violence against women is, "The fruit of a mindset of subjugation through violence when there's strong elements of gender violence in the extreme Islamic point of view. Whenever there is that mindset, it's fertile ground for the oppression, abuse, sale, discarding of women and girls.

Rickett says women in certain geographical areas are at a higer risk of abuse- border towns, brothel communities and conflict zones. There is also a disproportionate number of female abuses occurring in poorer nations. "Throughout the developing world, whether it's through long held cultural practices or religious practices, I believe it has a lot to do with the love/hate relationship that men have when it comes to women and girls. On the one hand, women and girls are desirable. On the other hand, they're somewhat weak by comparison. In the developing world, there are a range of abuses that girls face beginning with gendercide and infanticide."

According to Rickett, 1.6 million girls sell their bodies for sex; 70% of female trafficking victims end up in the commercial sex industry. She says there must be cultural changes in attitudes towards women in order to protect them. In turn, investing in girls will benefit the economy too. "The World Bank did a study that said if we invested in girls' education the way we do in boys' in the most impoverished countries, the GDP of those countries could be raised to upwards of 68% over one generation."

Crystal Park, Nigeria, Boko Haram, Nigerian schoolgirls , Nigerian officials , Michele Rickett, World
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