The phrase ‘Bring back our girls’ is getting increasingly popular in Nigeria. Even on twitter, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls is currently trending.
What does this phrase represent?
About two weeks ago (April 14th), gunmen from the radical terrorist group, Boko Haram raided a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state, Northeastern Nigeria, and kidnapped more than two hundred girls. The girls were mostly between the ages of 16 – 18 and were preparing for their final examinations. The group, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, has staged a wave of attacks in northern Nigeria in recent years, with an estimated 1,500 killed in the violence and subsequent security crackdown this year alone. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau first threatened to treat captured women and girls as slaves in a video released in May 2013.
It fuelled concern at the time that the group was adhering to the ancient Islamic belief that women captured during war are
slaves with whom their “masters” can have sex.
Recently, distressing reports were gotten that some of the girls have been forced to marry these terrorists. It was said that the girls were sold off for marriage for $12. Reports of the mass marriage came from a group that meets at dawn each day not far from the charred remains of the school. The ragtag gathering of fathers, uncles, cousins and nephews pool money for fuel before venturing unarmed into the thick forest, or into border towns that the militants have terrorised for months. On Sunday, the searchers were told that the students had been divided into at least three groups, according to farmers and villagers who had seen truckloads of girls moving around the area. One farmer said the insurgents had paid leaders dowries and fired celebratory gunshots for several minutes after conducting mass wedding ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday. There are fears that these girls could be raped and subjected to other forms of sexual and domestic violence.
Some devastated parents of the kidnapped girls.
Over 500 Nigerian Women on Wednesday defied heavy rainfall to protest the abduction of about 234 female students at the National Assembly. The women carried various placards with inscriptions such as – “Rescue our Chibok girls, “Bring back our girls alive,” “Where are my sisters,” “Let peace and justice reign,” …
Where are these girls?
Reports claim that they are in Sambisa forest, Borno state, where the terrorists live freely in camps. Boko Haram camps in Sambisa are not hidden. The terrorists camp in clear sight.
The camp seen housed thousands of terrorists and their abducted families, up to 3000 people by conservative estimates. The terrorists were seen walking freely in the camps, living a very normal life.
Women were seen in the camps, these included the hundreds of women who have been abducted over the years.
This report has sparked so many questions:
If these camps are not hidden, why is the Government not doing anything to directly tackle these insurgents?
Is the Army afraid of being out powered by the militants?
Are there saboteurs that warns the militants of imminent attacks by the army which enables them to flee and return later?
The Kidnap of these school children is a very gross human rights violation and I am particularly worried about the fate of these girls. As it is common with rebels and militants, these girls are most likely to be raped, sexually and physically abused, forced to marry, used as slaves or even sold off! The faster the Government of Nigeria and the international community acts, the better. Two weeks is already a very long time, and one can only imagine what has happened and what is happening to these young school girls. There is a need for quick and urgent actions to ensure that these girls are returned alive to their already devastated families.