234 Schoolgirls Kidnapped in Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls

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On April 14th 2014, 234 female students were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School in Borno, Nigeria by Boko Haram terrorists.  Several news vendors reported yesterday, that now, these girls have been taken as wives by several militants. A few girls have escaped, but efforts by the national military and Joint Task Force to rescue the girls have been fruitless.

I’m never sure what the appropriate reaction to news like this is. How do you find the balance between outrage and disillusionment? How do you stop yourself from being desensitized? Who do you turn to for help? I’m sure that these are the questions that most Nigerian citizens (and people all over the world concerned for the safety of young women) are currently asking.

Some Background

Boko Haram is a Islamist extremist terrorist group that has been active since about 2009; going on five years now. The literal translation of ‘Boko Haram’ is “Western Education is evil.” Boko Haram is an extremely vocal group and have delineated their aims as consisting a stricter enforcement of Sharia (traditional Muslim law in Nigeria) law, destroying the Nigerian government, and even going as far as attacking some countries in the West. They have in the past few years committed several crimes against humanity, including but not only kidnapping, bombing, and the torture of civilians in Northern Nigeria. These attacks have only gotten worse with thime, and the Nigerian government has failed to stop them. I remember when in 2009, Abdul Mutallab attempted and failed to bomb a Delta Airlines flight 163. We were so quick to say “Oh, he’s not Nigerian. Nigerians are not terrorists.” Yet, here we are, five years later, powerless against Boko Haram.

The Kidnapping 

In response to several attacks by Boko Haram in the Northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, the Nigerian government declared and a state of emergency. Students were sent home from school in order to prevent any more attacks. Unfortunately, a few schools were reopened to give students an opportunity to take their national exams. The courses of these young girls’ lives were changed forever because they decided to go to school. The terrorists infiltrated their school early on April 14th and said that they were military officials who had come to save them. The young girls soon found out that they had been deceived.

Now, it is being reported that a mass marriage was held on Monday in the Sambisa forest community where the girls are allegedly being held. It is no secret that the marrying off of underaged girls is prevalent in Northern Nigeria, but where does it stop? How does someone justify their kidnapping a sixteen-year old and then marrying her in a forest?

What does it all mean?

Nigerians in the rest of the country had, until recently, been able to ignore the deaths. The general mood has been one of weary apathy—from a government waging a heavy-handed crackdown on northerners to civilians far removed from the chaos. That mood may finally change.

It might be morbid of me, to try to find the good in this situation, but I am glad that people (including myself) are finally talking about Boko Haram and their heinous antics. Nigerians and concerned people all over the world have started making efforts towards saving these young girls without the Nigerian government’s help. I won’t go so far as saying the government is impotent, but these attacks have been happening for several years now. They should have developed a solution, and found a way to defeat these terrorists. Since they have not, it is up to citizens to try to get help from other nations and pool their resources in an effort to combat the forces of Boko Haram. If you’d like to be a part of this conversation, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has been started to create international awareness of this issue, and consequently, result in a rescue of the young women who were kidnapped.

This issue is far more complicated than I have delineated here. For more information, please consult these articles.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/13/world/africa/nigeria-violence-explainer/?hpt=bosread

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/29/kidnapped-nigerian-schoolgirls-marriage-claims

Post submitted by Kanyin

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