Tuesday, May 6, 2014

#BringBackOurGirls: Over 200 Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls May Have Been Sold Into Marriage

Nigerian Girls Abducted From SchoolNigeria Kidnapped GirlsIn March, a Malaysian airliner disappeared without a trace, and continues to make headlines around the world. Last week, Clippers owner Don Sterling sparked similar headlines worldwide after audio leaked of him making very racist comments leaked online.  But the story that hasn’t sparked the same amount of headlines has to do with young girls. Hundreds of them, that were abducted in Nigeria. Why has this been swept under the rug?
On April 16,  as many as 234 girls, between the ages of 15-18, were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria at gunpoint. Though they haven’t claimed responsibility for the brazen abduction, it’s widely believed that this was all done by an Islamist militant group linked to Al Qaeda called, “Boko Haram.” When loosely translated, the group’s name means “Western Education Is Sinful.” Needless to say, they fiercely oppose any and everything Western, especially the education of women. According to their beliefs, a woman’s place is at home and not in school, learning how to read and write.
Up until recently, there’s been little coverage on the horrific abduction, but thank God for the Internet as #BringBackOurGirls has been launched to bring awareness and to force the Nigerian government to step up. Though 43 girls have managed to escape, parents of the missing are taking it upon themselves to look for their daughters in forests and other places the Nigerian security forces are too afraid to enter because of the terrorists.  According to reports:
First, the Nigerian military reported that 129 school girls had been taken from the northeastern state of Borno. Then it claimed that all of the girls but eight had been released. This soon proved false. Few, if any, had been released. In fact, parents said an additional 100 girls beyond original estimates had also been taken. In all, 234 school girls are today suspected captured.
Parents have grown increasingly frustrated by what they perceive as a feckless governmental response. Some relatives have launched their own search, riding motorcycles deep into the surrounding forests in search of their girls. “My wife keeps asking me, why isn’t the government deploying every means to find our children,” relative [Samson] Dawah said.
“All we want from the government is to help us bring our children back,” one father named Pogu Yaga, wept.
Through his own independent investigation, an uncle of one of the kidnapped girls learned that they may have been sold off as child brides for as little as $12 each and taken to neighboring countries.
“We have heard from members of the forest community where they took the girls,” he told them, adding that there had been a mass marriage. ”They said there had been mass marriages and the girls are being shared out as wives among the Boko Haram militants.”
Village elder Pogo Bitrus told Agence France Presse locals had consulted with “various sources” in the nation’s forested northeast. “From the information we received yesterday from Cameroonian border towns our abducted girls were taken… into Chad and Cameroon,” he said, adding that each girl was sold as a bride to Islamist militants for 2,000 naira — $12.
It’s hard to imagine how it would feel to send your daughter off to school, and to learn that she’s not only been abducted but possibly sold off into marriage. Not to mention the military seems to be of no help in finding the missing women. A few days ago, The Guardian asked, “200 Girls Are Missing, So Why Doesn’t Anyone Care,” while noting:
Additional claims by some of the parents have led to more criticism of the military. Fathers and mothers, who in desperation marched into the Sambisa forest to search for their missing daughters, say they saw no trace of military presence in the area; no sign of any search and rescue operation. Some of these parents have now hired motorcycles to help their search.
Beyond grief, many Nigerians are also bewildered by the abductions. How many trucks were required to transfer well in excess of 200 girls? Was the convoy not spotted by anyone as it left the school? Were there no security agents along the route?
Yesterday, a frustrated reader in Nigeria wrote in:
At this point I have started to cry. Tears of impotence, of frustration, of undiluted anger. I AM TIRED OF MY COUNTRY! I AM TIRED OF MY PRESIDENT!!!
I have a 6 year old daughter. She could easily have been one of the girls in that school. I am lucky that she is not. But I can imagine the fear, the mental torment, the anguish that the mothers of those girls are going through.
Our president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, put of the FEC yesterday to mourn the death of the VP’s brother (may his soul rest in peace). Jonathan, what have you put off to find our girls?
Reports suggest that they girls are now being sold off into marriage for as little as N2000. Jonathan you just married off your daughter 2 weekends ago right? Did you sell her for $12.45? Why are you not speaking to us about our missing girls?
These are our children! They belong to us all, not to some random mothers in Chibok. What about all those who have been killed? I keep being told I do not understand the politics behind Boko Haram and this is true. But I understand death, I understand loss and I understand that my country is being laid to waste by terrorists. And while all this is going on, my President, whom we voted in with confidence that he would lead our nation forward, is dancing in churches and giving out gold plated iphones at his daughter’s wedding.
Who gave out souvenirs at the weddings the students at Chibok were sold into? Do you think they danced to Emma Nyra and Davido at their wedding?
I’m reaching out to the blogs, the news stations the radio shows. Carry this story please! Social media spoke and Donald Sterling is banned for life. Everybody with a magnifying flass is trying to find that Missing Malaysia air flight.
Can you help us BRING OUR GIRLS BACK?!!!!
Help these girls. Help me, because beyond writing this I am at a loss for what to do. I cannot help my country alone and to be honest my country doesn’t seem to be able to help itself. Will you help us?
I’ve been pondering on this for days, attempting to figure out what else we can do to help. After the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign was launched this week, the trending topic assisted in gaining the attention of national press outlets such as Fox News, NBC, and CNN, who have all published updates to the story within the last 24 hours.
For now, a petition urging Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, to step in is being circulated and it has already received over 60,000 signatures. You can sign it here .
Praying for the safe return of each and every one of these girls and closure for the families.

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