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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

AFRICAN CRISIS: What African Girls Fear More Than Drought!

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Anne Hathaway and Maria Eitel, / Aug 23, 2011 10:16 PM EDT.

Anne Hathway
Actress Anne Hathaway and Maria Eitel, President of the Nike Foundation, meet with young girls from the Berhane Hewan program, based in northern Ethiopia, dedicated to ending child marriage.

The Horn of Africa is suffering its worst drought in a half century, but girls and women fleeing the devastation are more worried about rape than water. Anne Hathaway and Maria Eitel on how ending the crisis will take more than food aid.

Drought has swept the Horn of Africa, leaving in its wake famine, communities forced to migrate, swollen refugee camps, and death.

Yet one of the greatest travesties of the worst drought crisis facing the region in more than a half century isn’t what we can see, and it won’t be resolved when the famine is over.

As we lift the tent walls and look into the bush, we find there is no safe space for girls and women—even in the displacement camps.

For that reason, when girls and women fleeing the devastating Somali and Kenyan drought were asked, “What is your greatest concern?,” food, water, and shelter were not their first answers.

A recent survey funded by the U.K.’s Department for International Development of 100 girls and women in the Dadaab refugee camp of northern Kenya shows that their greatest concern is avoiding rape and kidnapping.

Somali and Kenyan girls have become the victims of sexual violence on a frightening scale. The most vulnerable are girls under the age of 15. As one woman said, “While we were walking, if the men with the guns saw a pretty girl, they would take her and they would keep her.”

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