Bring Back Our Girls!

Nigeria’s militant Islamic group, Boko Haram, abducted more than 200 girls on April 14th, from a boarding school located in the town of Chibok.  It was estimated that approximately 200 armed militants arrived to the school, in the night.  With them, they brought twenty vehicles, used to steal supplies and kidnap the girls.

Why were these girls abducted? 

The name “Boko Haram,” in Hausa language, means “Western education is forbidden.”  It is thought that the abductions were a way to demonstrate their deep hatred for western education.  This group also has strict views on what a woman is and what she should do, which, in their eyes, is not educating herself.  In their strict puritanical view, the women’s place is in the home, not out in the world, work force, or schools.  The abducted girls included both Christians and Muslims.  Girls were forced to convert to Islam by Boko Haram, and in a video released on May 12th by the militant group, the girls were shown reciting Koranic verses, which is a type of Islamic prayer.

Has Boko Haram abducted girls before? And what happened to them?

In March 2014, Boko Haram attacked a rural school in Yule, killing 29 men.  However, the lives of the girls were spared.  They were only asked to return home and get married.  However, this is not the only time Boko Haram has acted out.  In May 2013, they took women, teenage girls, and children hostage as a response to its members’ wives and children being arrested.  They also threatened to sell and enslave their hostages — like with the Nigerian school girls.

How many hostages have been freed so far?

The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has offered a trade-off to Security forces for girls who have not converted to Islam.  The militant group also captured a family of seven, with four children ranging from ages 5-12; this family was also released.

What is being done to free the school girls?           

It is very hard to make negotiations with Boko Haram; everything has to be done discreetly to ensure the young girls will not be harmed.  The government’s intelligent agencies have failed in successfully attempting to come to terms with Boko Haram, so the chances of the government’s groups having much of an impact on the Nigerian girls’ release is, unfortunately, incredibly slim.  However, Nigeria has accepted helped from numerous countries including, the US, China, the UK, France, and Israel to help in this devastating crisis.  Some of the countries have sent specialists to help try and negotiate.

Where could the girls be?

Many people believe them to be located in the Sambisa Forest.  However, this is not entirely clear, and authorities are unsure if all the girls are located in one place, or scattered about with different militant groups.  Authorities believe it may take up to a decade before we locate all the girls, and get them home.

Why are authorities unsure how many girls are missing?

Fifty-eight girls have escaped so far, by jumping off the trucks after they were kidnapped.  One of the school girls says “We ran into the bush and waited until daybreak before we went back home.”  Associated Press news agency reported that two of the girls have died of snake bites, and eleven of them are ill.  Also when the Boko Haram attacked records were burned making it hard to establish exactly who is missing.  Also, other girls have escaped, with their families failing to report that they have returned.

What is Nigeria’s reaction?

Nigerians are filled with outrage, and main groups in the country have united to put pressure on the government to have them secure the freedom of these girls.  Protests have also been made over the internet and different social media sites using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

Post on all your social media #BringBackOurGirls and do anything you can to make this tragedy more known.  We have to find these girls!