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The Nigerian Army has infiltrated a Boko Haram camp and freed over 677 women and children hostages last week. 214 of these women are pregnant due to being raped by Boko Haram during their time as hostages in the camp. Rape continues to be used as a method of fear and control in countries torn by war and militant uprisings.
The Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Babatunde Osotimehim said that they had prepared for the worst while planning the extraction of these women from the camp and have in place intensive therapy and psychosocial services to aid them. The goal of these services is to firstly restore the dignity of the girls and then begin a process to integrate them back into society. This integration will be a larger struggle for some—some of the younger children were actually born into the Boko Haram camps and haven’t experienced anything outside the prison-like conditions.
In 2014 the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram abducted 200 schoolgirls from their school. Although this was when Boko Haram’s kidnappings were brought into the media’s spotlight, the group has been around since 2002 and has kidnapped over 13,000 people in Nigeria. The name Boko Haram translates to “Western education is forbidden” and many of their abductions have targeted women and children learning and teaching English. Boko Haram sees the education of females as a threat to the system of oppression and control that they idealise.
Last Tuesday would have been the 151st birthday of feminist and journalist Nellie Bly who started her career at a Pittsburgh newspaper after writing a fierce letter-to-the-editor regarding a sexist article that had been printed. Real name Elizabeth Cochran, Bly led an incredibly inspiring life which included posing as a mentally ill patient to expose the weird shit going on in the Blackwell Island mental asylum, and making her way around the world in 72 days—after reading Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, she just had to see if she could top it. She was also an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and the rights of poor working class citizens. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998 for her women’s rights advocacy plus has a character in the Asylum season (two) of American Horror Story based on her—a definite sign that you’ve made it big. It’s always a good time to celebrate passionate women in history, especially someone as fierce as Nellie Bly.
Fox News host and medical expert Dr Keith Ablow has stated he believes “men should be able to veto women’s abortions”. Yes you read right, he used the term “veto” while discussing the basic rights of women. This truly fucked up statement came during a piece in which he reviewed a recent radio interview with actress Sofia Vergara whose ex-fiance is currently trying to use her frozen embryos to become a single father. Ablow went on to state that Sofia has less than 2 per cent credibility in the matter and “Why would a woman’s right to decide what to do with a frozen embryo trump a man’s?” While I would never expect something remotely resembling equal or objective journalism to come out of the Fox network, this has to be the biggest “there’s no way someone actually said that” moment I’ve had.