not only voiceless, but choice-less: the impregnanted victims of boko haram

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#bringbackourgirlsThe rescue of hundreds of Nigerian women and girls from terrorist group Boko Haram received more press coverage than the human rights of women and girls are generally allocated. But what wasn’t included in that coverage is how the U.S. is actively denying those same women and girls the medical care they desperately need. 

Many of those rescued were raped and forcibly impregnated while being held captive. This is becoming an all too common tactic of war, employed by Boko Haram and other groups such as the so-called Islamic State. The governor of Borno State in Nigeria, where Boko Haram is most active, told reporters, “The sect leaders make a very conscious effort to impregnate the women…Some of them, I was told, even pray before mating, offering supplications for God to make the products of what they are doing become children that will inherit their ideology.”

In Iraq and Syria, one humanitarian aid worker described the Islamic State’s strategy of systematic rape and forced pregnancy as having the goal of breaking “their spirits so they would become compliant mothers to children of the Islamic caliphate.” Continue reading…

nigerian army ‘rescues 200 girls and 93 women’ in strike against boko haram

Women and girls are still captives and prizes of war. When will this end?

Nigeria’s military has claimed to have rescued 200 girls and 93 women from a notorious Boko Haram stronghold, but an army official said they were not those kidnapped from Chibok a year ago.

“Troops have this afternoon captured & destroyed three camps of terrorists inside the Sambisa forest & rescued 200 girls & 93 women,” defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a text message on Tuesday, referring to the area in north-east Borno state where the Islamists have bases.

Olukolade gave no indication as to how long it would take for the hostages to be identified, although an army spokesman said they were not from Chibok.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the abduction of 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, also in Borno, on 14 April last year. Fifty seven girls escaped within hours of the attack but 219 remained in captivity. Read more…

Screenshot_2014-12-17-17-45-40These two stories just happen to come up side by side in my Facebook newsfeed and I was struck by the disparity between our severely commercialized holiday season and other countries, other people, who are never safe and face atrocities such as this on a regular basis.

ISIS executes 150 women for refusing to marry militants and buries them in mass graves, but you can get up to 50% off in-store!

We will never be able to right all the wrongs of the world, but stories like this make you realize just how far we still have to go in at least trying to achieve a decent, just and humane planet.

rape-caused pregnancy – that’s the way god planned it

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At a candidates’ debate last night, U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock of Indiana expressed his belief that life begins at conception and that the only case in which he’d approve of a pregnant woman having an abortion was if her life was in danger. Then he added this:

Life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen.

Welcome to the 24-hour news cycle, Mr. Mourdock. Not surprisingly, your comments have caused outrage.

Here’s what Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal had to say:

Does Mourdock mean that God intended for that rape to happen, and for it to result in a pregnancy? Is the next step not to prosecute the rapist–and to force [the rape victim] to marry the rapist? This is not so far-fetched and is happening in Afghanistan and Morocco. Such religious extremism threatens women’s lives–in fact, threatens all of our lives, and religious freedom itself.

Mourdock tried to walk back his quote today with the old “I regret the misinterpretation” excuse:

If there was any interpretation other than what I intended, I really regret that. Anyone who goes to the videotape and views that understands fully what I meant.

Sounds like he’s saying that every pregnancy is planned by God, even if the woman had no say in the matter at all. Even if she was violated and abused. As Smeal pointed out, it’s a slippery slope from that religious-based viewpoint to what goes on in countries with religious extremism as their de facto legal system.

The Twittersphere has been quick to jump on the religiosity of Mourdock’s statement:

@Human Choices: Apparently, Richard #Mourdock wants rapists to get to pick the mother(s) of their children. How very Christian of him. Not.

@sensitive_b: “Apparently the 1950s aren’t far back enough, they now want to take us all the way back to the Calvinist idea of predestination?”

And @lwdgrfx started a new hashtag: “#GiftsFromGod: health, love, friends, rapists’ babies”

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney “disagreed” with Mourdock’s comments, but continues to endorse the candidate and has run an ad in his favor. You can ask Romney to pull that ad here.

As Smeal concluded, “Religious extremism has no place in public decision-making that can cost women their lives and freedom.”