It has been more than two weeks since more than 200 female schoolgirls were abducted in Nigeria, and still many international organizations and media outlets appear to be unfazed.
On 15 April, the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, was attacked by militants who broke into the school, killed the school guards, and kidnapped a large number of students. While the teachers and the headmaster pleaded to the terrorists to "have mercy", girls were dragged and loaded into trucks to be taken to an unknown location.
Some girls who later escaped the ordeal claimed that the attack was carried out by Boko Haram, a militant organization whose name means "Western education is sinful”.
What Is Boko Haram?
Boko Haram, or the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad, is an Islamist militant terrorist organization based in Nigeria. It is fundamentally opposed to what it perceives as the “westernization” of the local culture and wants to establish an “Islamic” state based on the principles of shariah (Islamic law). Some reports also suggest that it might have cultivated links with Al Qaeda.
Since its inception, the organization has wreaked havoc in the country through a wave of violent activities which include bombings, assassinations, abductions, and attacks. Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths between 2002 and 2013.
The group has targeted several schools, abducted and killed thousands of children. This is a part of the group’s strategy to dissuade the government from following the so-called “western model” of education. Furthermore, it is firmly opposed to education for girls. It has kidnapped girls in the past to use as cooks and sex slaves.
The incident has not received the global attention that it deserves. Though not entirely unreported in the international media, the story has been overshadowed by some of the week’s biggest headlines. This doesn’t make the suffering of the parents or the children any less.
There have been no large-scale internationally-sponsored operations to recover the girls. The international community must actively participate in the rescue mission.
Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, wrote in an article, “The world must wake up to an escalating tragedy now engulfing Nigeria. Today the lives of 230 teenage schoolgirls hang in the balance.”
It is now finally time to act.