Welcome to “Women Around the World: This Week,” a series that highlights noteworthy news related to women and U.S. foreign policy. This week’s post, from August 26 to September 1, was compiled by Valerie Wirtschafter, Dara Jackson-Garrett, and Ariella Rotenberg.
Nigeria marks five hundred days since the abduction of over two hundred and fifty schoolgirls by Boko Haram
Last week, Nigeria marked five hundred days since Boko Haram abducted more than two hundred and fifty girls from a government secondary school in the remote town of Chibok. A candlelight vigil was held in the capital city of Abuja where marchers criticized the slow government response to the abduction. The U.S. government also released a statement this week renewing its commitment to assist in the rescue of the Chibok girls. Although 57 of the girls have escaped, there is no information about the other 219. Eyewitness testimony has indicated that some of the remaining girls may now be committing atrocities on behalf of Boko Haram. Several of the young women who managed to escape have recently resettled in the United States to reenter school and rebuild their lives.
Migrants arriving in Europe at high risk of violence, extortion
An estimated 107,500 migrants arrived in the European Union (EU) in July, triple the number that made the journey during this month last year, according the EU border agency, Frontex. The large number of migrants—many from Syria—has led to the proliferation of smuggling rings and human trafficking. Smuggled migrants, especially women and children, are at high risk of violence, forced labor, extortion, and prostitution during their journey. Last week’s discovery of seventy-one suffocated migrants in the back of an unventilated, abandoned truck in Austria drew international attention to the growing crisis and shed light on the high risks migrants take to reach the EU. Europe has so far struggled to respond to what some are calling the largest migrant crisis since World War II.
More than 100 girls breathe in toxic gas at school in possible terrorist attack
Earlier this week, 124 girls were hospitalized after breathing in toxic gas at their school in the Herat province of Afghanistan. Officials are now investigating whether this incident was a deliberate attack by the Taliban, who have been accused of using similar tactics in the past. The Taliban’s rejection of education for girls is well documented. During the group’s rule from 1996 to 2001, women and girls were barred from attending school. The Taliban also made international headlines for its assault on girls’ education in 2012 when a group of masked gunmen attempted to murder girls-education advocate, Malala Yousafzai on her way to school in Karachi, Pakistan. Though major barriers still limit girls’ education in Afghanistan, the government has succeeded in increasing the number of students in primary and secondary school from one million in 2001 to 8.4 million in 2015, of which 39 percent are girls.