Over 300 Nigerian girls kidnapped by extremists

On January 24, 2014, the JC community met in the auditorium to watch the film “Girl Rising,” which shows how girls around the world in developing countries are denied education. The film conveyed its message by following eight different girls to provide examples.

On the night of April 14, 2014 over 300 additional examples happened all at once. According to an article on CBC.com, over 300 girls, mostly between the ages of 16 and 18, were kidnapped by an Islamic extremist group called Boko Haram. In the local language of Hausa, Boko Haram loosely translates to “western education is a sin.”

“It opens your eyes to how dangerous the world is,” junior Lien Baranoski said.

The group is led by Abubakar Shekau and was described by a CNN article as “…the face of terror. A ruthless leader with a twisted ideology. And the sadistic architect of a campaign of mayhem and misery.”

Boko Haram was founded by Mohammed Yusuf, and Shekau was his second-in-command until Yusuf was killed in 2009 by Nigerian security forces. The group is an al-Qaeda affiliate and, according to Human Rights Watch, has been responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 people in the past five years.

According to the CBC article, the group is held responsible for a recent bombing that killed 71 people and wounded 124, as well as a mass murder in which 44 male students and teachers were killed in their sleep at a college in Gujba.

The CBC article also said that at around midnight on April 14, a group of men dressed in military attire surrounded a school in Chibok, Nigeria, where over 300 girls had gathered to take exams. They claimed they were sent to defend them from an attack from Boko Haram and took them to an unknown location.

According to another CBC article, since the kidnapping about 53 girls have escaped and 276 remain. The group went on to kidnap eight more girls from a nearby village.

Shekau released a video in which he claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. In it he said “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah.” It is speculated by the CBC article that the girls will be sold as wives to members of the group with a typical price of $12.

Sarah Lawan was one of the girls who escaped. In the second CBC article, she said that the kidnapping was “too terrifying for words,” and that more girls could have escaped but were too afraid. She also said that she is too scared to go back to school.

According to a Daily News article by Corky Siemaszko, the police and soldiers in Chibok were warned four hours before the kidnapping that the Boko Haram forces were coming. Despite this, they not only failed to fortify the town, but they also fled, leaving the girls to the Boko Haram forces. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan dismissed the report.

The Nigerian Government has faced criticism for how they have handled the situation. According to another CBC article, the governments of the United States and Great Britain have offered help since day one, but the Nigerian government refused to accept the aid until four weeks after the kidnapping.

“[The Nigerian government] should do anything to help,” junior Marc Griffin said.

There has been international support for the effort to free the girls. Pope Francis tweeted “Let us all join in prayer for the immediate release of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria. #BringBackOurGirls.”

First Lady Michelle Obama also gave her support for the girls and condemned the terrorists in a Youtube video.She also said that the U.S. was doing everything they could to try to bring the girls back.

On May 9, 2014, dozens of activists gathered in front of City Hall in Baltimore. According to The Baltimore Sun, the group was mainly comprised of students from all-girls schools in the area. They chanted “Bring back our girls.”

At the same activist gathering, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake spoke. “Unfortunately, this type of violence against women and girls is not uncommon. It is not uncommon halfway around the world in Nigeria, and it is not uncommon right here in the United States. This is why our rage at this atrocity should not be a passing fad but a wake-up call,” she said.

According to a fourth CBC article, the Nigerian government has deployed two divisions to an area near the border with Cameroon and Niger where they believe the girls to be located. They have also deployed aircraft to scout the area, but so far have not revealed if they have found anything.

“It’s pretty crazy. All these girls are being killed, and not just that but other people are being killed and bombs are going off,” sophomore Wilfred Ikejiofor said. “This is one of the obstacles you go through to get an education like in ‘Girl Rising.’”

Justin Hawkins is an Opinion Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.