It is universally understood that children need to be protected. Yet time and again, we hear about children who lack basic human rights: access to education, food, and shelter. Whether due to war, poverty, or lack of a safe home environment, many children are left to fend for themselves. CASETalks is an interview series that raises awareness about children’s human rights. Each month, CASE presents a new discussion between an artist and an educator, curator, or nonprofit to talk about issues important to their practice. We look forward to presenting ideas that help foster dialogue and action.
Emeke Obanor: In His Own Words
In 2014, Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from a school in the town of Chibok, and many are still missing. Some girls gained freedom when they failed to detonate the bombs strapped to their waists and surrendered to security authorities, while some gained freedom after military raids in their camps.
Emeke Obanor [b. 1972, Delta State, Nigeria] is a self-taught photographer based in the oil-rich, but crisis-torn Niger Delta region of Nigeria. A literature teacher by day, he is committed to showing the world the atrocities happening to girls in his region by Boko Haram, a ruthless terrorist group operating in northeastern Nigeria. In 2014, they abducted 276 female students from a school in the town of Chibok, and many are still missing. In captivity, the girls were radicalized against western education, a system that contributes to independent thinking, and is against Boko Haram’s view of Islam. Some girls gained freedom when they failed to detonate bombs that were strapped to their waists and surrendered to security authorities, while some gained freedom after military raids in their camps. But in the face of unimaginable terror, Islamic extremism, and gender bias, many of the young girls decided to pursue a western education when they regained their freedom. "We were abducted for the choice we made - to go to school," a young girl muttered.
In Nigeria, one in four girls are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Many locals undermine the emotional trauma experienced by rape victims, creating a lack of sympathy. In Nigeria, this attitude is due to patriarchal and misogynistic culture; a society where rules are dictated and governed by men, and culture and tradition mean men control their wives.
In his newest series "Legal Rape," Obanor works with rape victims to draw attention to the systematic abuse of your girls in a country where women's rights are scarce. Both Obanor [a father to three daughters] and the girls hope these images will raise awareness about rape and the numerous issues that need to be addressed.
To learn more about Emeke Obanor click here.