The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS (GCWA) and its membership wish to speak out against the recent kidnappings in Nigeria of over 300 girls, 12 to 17years of age, on the night of 14th April, and further condemn the abduction of eight more young women the night of 5 May, 2014. The majority of the victims are believed to have been abducted from their boarding school. Boko Haram militants have claimed responsibility for the abductions, indicating that girls should not be educated, but rather married.
The GCWA joins the people of Nigeria in denouncing these kidnappings as human rights violations, which exemplify the profound gender inequalities still faced by women. While young women are among the most vulnerable to HIV, the abduction places these girls at additional risk because of sexual violence. Sexual transmission is the dominant mode of HIV infection for young women, and the reports of human trafficking and violence raise serious concerns regarding the health and safety of the girls who were abducted.
The GCWA shares in the urgency expressed by the United Nations Human Rights Office, UN Women and UNICEF, and echoes their call on the perpetrators to immediately return these girls unharmed to their communities. The GCWA beseeches those in a position to influence the kidnappers to do their utmost to ensure the safe return of these young women.
The GCWA further calls on the Nigerian government to scale up their search efforts, to accept foreign assistance if need be, considering the risk of acquiring HIV, sexual and reproductive ill-health and psychological trauma that the missing girls face. The GCWA stands with the United Nations in stating that education is a fundamental tenet of promoting equal gender rights and health, and schools must remain safe spaces where women and girls can exercise their right to live free from violence, intimidation, and persecution. Communities at all levels are urged to continue advocating for the return of those kidnapped, including via social media. It is crucial that the girls be released with the utmost haste as violence not only increases women’s likelihood of contracting HIV, but also constitutes a human rights violation and a crime.
The GCWA and its membership stand in solidarity with the families of the missing girls and the people of Nigeria. We join the call of 1 Billion Rising, calling on everyone to take a moment on Sunday, 11 May to rise up against the abduction of the young girls. For more information, go to http://www.onebillionrising.org/12454/going-anywhere/