Four of the dozens of girls who were able to escape their kidnappers by jumping out of a truck or hiding in the forest. (AP/Haruna Umar)
About two weeks ago, hundreds of Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their secondary school, but we’ve hardly heard a peep about it in U.S. media. Though schools in Borno, the state where the girls were abducted, have been closed due to militant attacks, the students had returned to take a physics exam. They are thought to have been taken by an Islamic group named Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin” or “Western education is forbidden.”
Salon staff writer Mary Elizabeth Williams poignantly asks, “Where are the girls now? And does the rest of the world care about their fate?”
On April 14, [the] kidnappers broke into the [Government Girls Secondary School in the Sambisa Forest], killed two guards, and loaded the girls into trucks and drove off. Between 30 and 50 girls are believed to have escaped. The rest of the girls, mostly aged between 16 and 18, remain missing.
Last week, some of kidnapped girls’ parents came forward to say that Boko Haram…have threatened to kill them and their daughters. Reports from the Borno-Yobe People’s Forum say that villagers in the Sambisa Forest have claimed the girls are being taken across the country’s borders and sold into marriage to Boko Haram militants for the U.S. equivalent of $12. On Wednesday, hundreds of demonstrators, mostly female, marched through the rain to protest what they say has been a lack of action on the part of the Nigerian government to find and return the girls. Organizer Hadiza Bala Usman expressed her exasperation to the BBC, saying, “It is not clear why the rescue operation is not making headway considering the fact that there’s a clear idea of the perimeter area where these kids were taken in the first week: to the Sambisa forest.”
But it’s not just the Nigerian government that seems unmoved to action. If you were to look at the front pages of your preferred American news sites over the past 14 days, or to tune in to your favored news broadcasts, you’d likely have seen only passing reference to the story, or none at all. Over 200 teenage girls – stolen, believed sold and raped – and yet the New York Times has devoted minimal attention to it. CNN and the L.A. Times have barely mentioned it in the past week….
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata