We “Bring Back Our Girls” only to expose them to more trauma
Remember “Bring Back Our Girls”?
The unctuous twitter campaign sparked by the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria, last April, became a feminist cause célèbre when Michelle Obama tweeted a sad selfie with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls.
Well, no thanks to Michelle and her Hollywood pals, “Our Girls” are back, after a year of living hell, many having endured continual gang rape by their captors.
“They turned me into a sex machine,” Asabe Aliyu told Nigeria’s The Daily Times. “They took turns to sleep with me. Now, I am pregnant and I cannot identify the father.”
Inevitably, almost half of the 534 girls and women rescued by Nigerian government forces in recent weeks are “visibly pregnant”.
But now, these young Christians are being traumatised all over again by a Western feminist establishment which wants them to abort their unborn children.
Instead of agitating against the unfair stigma often applied to the children of rape, or pushing for the US government to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram, Western activists are using their considerable influence to push for abortions for victims of Islamist sexual violence.
“As Boko Haram Kidnapping Victims Are Rescued, Many of Them Are Pregnant. Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About Their Right to Abortion?” ran the headline in Cosmopolitan magazine last week.
“It should be a no-brainer for international donors like the U.S. government, like [the United Nations Population Fund], to be going into Nigeria and helping these girls access safe abortions, for the ones who want and choose that,” Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, told the magazine.
Abortion is illegal in Nigeria, so activists want the US government to capitalise on the Boko Haram menace by pressuring the Nigerian government to change its laws and offer rape victims what is euphemistically called “a full range of reproductive health care services”.
The sick suggestion is that Nigeria has already been told by the Obama administration that it must change its laws on contentious social issues, including abortion, before it gets any help to fight Boko Haram.
“The United States actually said it would help Nigeria with Boko Haram only if we modify our laws concerning homosexuality, family planning, and birth control, ” Nigerian Catholic Bishop Emmanuel Badejo recently told the Catholic news network Aleteia.org.
If it is true that abortion activists are hampering Nigeria’s ability to fight the Islamist threat, then they are helping create even more rape victims, which probably serves their purpose of promoting abortion in one of the last holdouts, Africa’s most Christian country.
Thus the pregnant Boko Haram victims are trapped at the intersection of two extreme ideologies: Islamist fanaticism and post-Christian feminism.
They were targeted by Islamist militants because they were Christian, and now they are being targeted by Western abortion activists for the same reason.
Abortion won’t help these young women, who face stigma either way, because they live in communities where killing the unborn is regarded as a sin.
Instead they should be praised for being mothers to children who have done nothing wrong. You can’t blame a baby for the crimes of its father.
Pressure from Western NGOs to abort their children only adds to the anguish of these women, and may destroy their one chance for happiness.
The example of the brutal Rwanda genocide 21 years ago shows that, for many rape survivors, their child was the only thing that made life worth living, according to a paper in The Journal of Social and Political Psychology.
“How Motherhood Triumphs Over Trauma Among Mothers With Children From Genocidal Rape in Rwanda” by Odeth Kantengwa, is a heartwarming affirmation of the best of human nature.
“Social stigma related to rape and children born of rape created challenges,” writes Kantengwa, a researcher from the Research and Documentation Center on Genocide in Kigali.
“However, despite these and other difficulties, motherhood played a positive role for many women, often providing a reason to live again after the genocide.”
Kantenwaga found “these female survivors have come to view their children as gifts, rather than burdens.”
Motherhood helped them re-establish happiness and trust and find “meaning in a life caring for and being sustained by others”.
The way NGOs could help survivors of genocidal rape is not by encouraging them to have abortions, but by helping to reduce the social stigma in their communities, and by providing practical help such as job training for the mothers and school fees for the children.
Kantenwaga suggests that professional counselling can also help women create positive “perceptions of their future babies”.
No one pretends that the journey ahead for the Boko Haram girls is easy. They have already been traumatised beyond belief.
But it is a false promise that abortion is the solution to their pain, when, in fact, motherhood offers them a reason to live.
ALSO, LET’S TALK ABOUT STRUGGLE STREET
Despite the critics, the controversial SBS documentary Struggle Street was a triumph. It opened our eyes, and also our hearts.
Ivanka Pelikan, a community worker who runs Graceadas Cottage in nearby Bidwill, and plays a cameo role on the show, says she has been inundated with donations since the finale aired on Wednesday.
On Friday, $5000 came in from a kind Tasmanian viewer, and a woman drove from Castle Hill in tears with a carload of baby clothes.
“It’s overwhelming ” says Pelikan, who has worked at the cottage for nine years. “I’m just a mum, but I see the hardness in people’s lives.”
Struggle Street showed the rest of Australia what Pelikan sees every day.
Not only was it the highest rating program in the history of SBS, but it provided a real public service, by honestly depicting the lives of fellow Sydneysiders suffering under the twin burdens of generational welfare dependency and drug addiction.
We witnessed the intense anguish caused by tragic ice addict Corey to his entire family. We were horrified when 21-year-old pregnant mother Billie Jo pulled bongs and then smoked a cigarette in labour, and empathised somewhat when we saw her own mother, a meth addict when she was born. But, still, we were relieved to learn that Billie Jo’s baby was removed after birth.
We were elated by the guts and resilience of 22-year-old Chris. Growing up in foster care, after being removed from his mentally ill mother, Cheryl, he returns to Mt Druitt to reconnect with her.
He wants to work, not subsist on welfare, so he applies for a job as a cleaner at Penrith Panthers. The scene where his extended family helps him get dressed up for the job interview is incredibly moving.
Chris gets the job and we see him making the daily 1 hour, 40 minute journey by train in the pre-dawn darkness. He wants to save up for a car.
There is no more powerful depiction of the dignity of work, which is really only understood by those who live in communities deprived of it.
Critics of Struggle Street don’t like facing the consequences of misguided welfare policies, which is the first step to changing them.