“Welcome our girls, welcome our sisters”

Boko Haram’s constant terrorist threat in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Mali has provoked a multitude of deaths and controversies in the last eight years (organization founded in 2002), whose aim is to declare the establishment of the Sharia as in force norm in all the conditions of Nigeria. This organization has provoked 20.000 casualties, the displacement of 1,5 million refugees and a humanitarian crisis without precedents in the North-East of Nigeria in its eight years of insurgency.

During one of the moments of Boko Haram’s maximum territorial expansion, on April 13, 2014, members of this terrorist group were penetrating a center of Chibok’s secondary education, to the Northeast of the country, kidnapping 276 teenagers, between twelve and seventeen years of age. Of the kidnapped girls, 57 could escape of his captors, but the rest disappeared.

Now 82 of the Chibok school girls have been returned in a trade deal between Boko Haram and the Nigerian Government. In order to retrieve the girls, five of Boko Haram commanders have now been set free. The Chibok girls gained attention after social media erupted with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, many public figures such as former United States First Lady Michelle Obama came out in support of the movements. As of today, there are still 113 girls held captive by Boko Haram.

For the return of the girls, some parents traveled to the capital to celebrate and to be with their daughters as soon as possible, meanwhile there are still parents worried about the 113 missing girls. Integrating these girls back to society is going to be a tough task as they faced unbelievable psychical pressure and violence without any hope for freedom. Because many of them were Christians they had to convert to Islam.  It followed marriage to their captor and childbirth somewhere in the forest. The others were forced to take part in suicide missions. The UN Special Rapporteurs stressed the necessity for useful measures to address stigma and rejection of women and people associated with Boko Haram by their families and communities.

As the girls return to their homes “the president was delighted to receive them and he promised that all that is needed to be done to reintegrate them into the society will be done,” said Femi Adesina. Their reintegration to the society will be supervised by government officials.

Even though President Muhammadu Buhari promised for his election to make the fight against Boko Haram and the return of the Girls his priorities it is unclear how active the terrorist group is now. Buhari late last year announced Boko Haram had been “crushed”. With the group, still in activity in Northern Nigeria and its surrounding countries Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris says, “A lot of people in Nigeria don’t believe that Boko Haram will simply release those girls after three years in captivity for nothing in return.”. This shows that even after the release of 21 girls last year and 82 now the population remains uncertain about their safety from the group and the power of the government.



Bruised: Women Struggle in Middle East

Bruised: Women struggle in Middle East

For very long, women have been suffering in Middle East, not only for their rights to come and go, but also having to deal with constant domestic violence. We aim to explain their suffering culture and give an update on this case in Middle East: If it is better or worse, the rise of women against it and statistical analysis.

Women in Middle East have dealt with a lot of hardships during thousands of years, in which they are treated as lesser individuals in comparison with men. Still in a lot of countries they must dress covering their whole body, cannot be seen alone outside of their homes and rape is not considered a crime in some countries. This culture goes on because of the strict law mixed with Islamic preaching, and while there are mostly Muslims, the law is enforced and even they are scared to call the police.

In relation to improvements, a good number of countries improved women’s rights in their region, although women violence is still widespread, even with some enhancements in law and social pressure. Saudi Arabia for example is one of the most conservative countries and curiously at the same time one with the most rape cases in Middle East.


Combined Scale of the Prevalence and Sanction of Rape and Sexual Assault of Women

Not only rape scale is really high in Saudi Arabia, ineffective in judicial system about rape cases also a really important point. Saudi Arabia’s legal code is Shari’s law. Sharia law is extreme version of Islamic rules. Because of this law, women are not given the same rights as men and in the courts are much worse. For example, women are unable to speak for themselves in court and also man’s testimony is worth two women’s testimonies.

The following story shows how harsh can it be if the woman goes court about sexual assault, harassment or rape: A young girl in Saudi Arabia who was being molested by her father went to the court to file a complaint. The judges did not believe her and told her, her father needed to come in to file the complaint. This shows even women can make a complaint about sexual harassment properly and when she does it the court will not believe her.

Based on our research we believe that the main cause of the high rape scale in Middle East and North Africa is the lack of conviction of rapists due reporting rape cases and judicial system. If there were much better laws where covers women rights or making men and women equal then there won’t be sexual harassment or rape cases this much. So we believe whole judicial system in Middle East and North Africa ( almost every Muslim country) needs change.

Women’s situation, changing in the world?

Progress or a threat to the future of women’s Rights? Unlike in west countries, Arabia Saudi is a country in which women are discriminated and one of the things that they have forbidden is to do sport. Why does it happen in countries like that?

We see it as something immoral and inhuman that breaks with the universal rights. However, people from Arab countries, in this case, from Saudi Arabia, think that this kind of behaviour is quite normal.

Nevertheless, there are some particular cases in which women are recognised as something more than a simple object that has no participation in the society. A very interesting and a possible example to take a step to the progress of women situation is Dalma Malhas.  In the next Olympic games of 2012 this young girl may compete against other girls and she will be the first girl who plays in those games representing Saudi Arabia. However, Malhas competed in Singapore Youth Games in the year 2010 but she was elected by the International Olympic Committee. This situation is not only exceptional  but also  very important because this is the first time that an Arab woman can probably go to the Olympic games.

Looking at the current situation in Saudi Arabia women don’t have the chance to do nothing if they are not accompanied by their husbands. In addition, they have to cover themselves up wearing burqa or hijab and they cannot drive any car or eat alone into a restaurant. And if we realise that this is happening why don’t we do nothing?

The situation of women in those Arab countries has always been the same, they are submitted to men and they have no right to freedom of expression or participation in the society issues. Therefore, many international organizations work in order to look for Arab women social welfare.

Although the situation has not changed we can observe that globalization has created a transformation in women’s mind and therefore they look for their rights although it is a very difficult problem that they have to solve.

Written by Andrea Sánchez , Victor Corvera, Marta Saguar and María Cortés