Seventeen days ago, and two weeks into the ordeal of what we now know to be nearly 300 young female Nigerian scholars, Al Jazeera America began publicizing the Twitter hashtag campaign #BringBackOurGirls. I had not seen any other news outlet acknowledge the story at that point. Plenty of time and money had been spent for weeks on the missing airliner and the sunken ferry, but it seemed at the time that no one was particularly concerned about thugs invading a girls’ dormitory on the eve of final exams and abducting them for doing exactly what they were there to do: studying.
First and foremost, at that time, the story needed publicity – a higher profile – and the hashtag campaign seemed exactly what was needed so I came here, posted about it, and tweeted the post with the hashtag. Reactions to that post indicated what I had predicted. A lot of people did not know about this situation. I continued posting and tweeting and as the days went by the hashtag campaign did what it was meant to do. It went viral. Big names picked it up and the media could no longer ignore the story.
The whole point of the campaign was to raise public awareness, and it worked. Now it is a story. Now it gets coverage. People know. The global hashtag campaign forced the hand of the Nigerian government which had done nothing to help the girls or their families. Now on the evening news we see the girls, their faces sad and surrounded by veils. We see the abductors, cocky and jeering.
The girls are not home yet. We are not even sure where they are. We have heard the stories of a few who escaped, and at least one says that she cannot return to school. Mission accomplished, Boko Haram! At least one young woman will not be studying Darwin, or be looking online at powerful telescopic photos near the moment of the Big Bang, or grow up to find ways to build a greener future for her country – the leading oil producing nation on the continent.
The supremely ironic, crazy attack by right-wing media on the hashtag campaign and on Hillary Clinton (I predicted that here) should come as no surprise and is no coincidence.
They live in the same insulated deadpool as the kidnappers. They are the American Boko Haram who deny scientific evidence of evolution, the Big Bang, and the human influence on the climate. Like the kidnappers, many of them hold fundamentalist beliefs. Eschewing education themselves, they are averse to reasoning, and the last thing on their agenda is the rescue of these girls. Had it been, they would have joined the campaign rather than attacking it.
There is nothing sillier than aligning Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama with the bullies who are holding these girls. Nothing. There is nothing more outlandish than the notion that Hillary and Michelle want to bring down the Nigerian government. Hillary, a longtime advocate for women, girls, and education, proudly watched her daughter receive a Ph.D. last weekend. Michelle is the mother of two schoolgirls in the same age group as those kidnapped. They joined a social media campaign the same way the rest of us did in sympathy with those girls and their families. There is nothing hard to understand about that and certainly no shady hidden agenda.
We have managed to capture the media attention, finally. That’s a good thing. People know now. But on the ground in Nigeria, the anguish has not diminished. The girls are still not home, and families grieve.
CHIBOK, Nigeria — The women surged forward, anguish creasing their faces. Many were crying. A collective wail went up, but the officials traveling with the visiting local dignitary pushed them back, shushing them so he could speak.
Mutely, the mothers of Chibok bent their heads, clasped their hands tightly and knelt Sunday on the grounds of the burned-out ruins of Chibok Government Girls Secondary School, their sobs subsiding after a brief moment on this overcast but stifling afternoon.
Their daughters were kidnapped from this desolate place and taken into the surrounding sandy scrub nearly four weeks ago by the Islamist sect Boko Haram. As many as 276 girls here were taken. Although about 50 escaped, not a single one of the remaining girls has been found, and despite international offers of help, the Nigerian government has been slow to act.
(CNN) — I think of myself as an “impatient optimist.” There are times, however, when it’s harder to muster the optimism, and the impatience takes over. That’s how I felt when I read about the hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the extremist group Boko Haram to be married off or sold into slavery.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the worst aspect of this atrocity. And it’s pitiful that this is nothing new. Treating women as spoils or weapons of war has been a common practice for thousands of years.
… perhaps the most awful part of the story is that Boko Haram stands against a better future for ordinary Nigerians.
Hillary Clinton called the capture of nearly 300 Nigerian school girls by extremists an “act of terrorism” Wednesday and said the government there needed to accept global offers of help, including from the United States.
It was the first time Clinton has spoken out about the capture of the girls, who were seized from a Nigerian school in mid-April. More than 300 were initially kidnapped, but some escaped. At least 276 are reported to still be held captive by the Islamist militia Boko Haram, which has threatened to sell them.
… just hours before Kerry spoke on Tuesday, a report was released that eight more girls have been kidnapped from a village near one of the Islamists’ strongholds in northeastern Nigeria overnight, according to police and residents. The girls were aged 12 to 15.
Lazarus Musa, a resident of the village of Warabe, told Reuters that armed men had opened fire during the raid.
“They were many, and all of them carried guns. They came in two vehicles painted in army color. They started shooting in our village,” Musa said by telephone from the village in the hilly Gwoza area, Boko Haram’s main base.
The French news agency Agence France-Presse says it has obtained a video in which a leader of a militant Islamist group claims credit for abducting 276 Nigerian schoolgirls. It’s been assumed that the group, Boko Haram, was responsible but until Monday there had been no claim made. There was no immediate independent verification of the video.
Terrorists fund their activities via trafficking in poached animal parts, drugs, and human beings. They are nothing but gangsters masquerading as religious zealots.
If this is not the first instance of girls being kidnapped this way, it is good to see the story finally getting media coverage. It should not have taken this long considering the huge bucks spent by the media covering a lost airliner long after finding survivors was hopeless, and lesser but considerable amounts spent on the sunken ferry story after it was clear that there were no survivors inside. These girls are alive and need to be rescued. Enough time has been wasted.
Girls belong in school not in terrorist camps. They belong with their parents and their teachers, not transported across borders. Their government must rescue them, and if that government needs help, assuredly many are willing to assist.
So 18 days into this kidnapping here are some sad and infuriating facts.
The story finally was reported on World News Tonight on NBC (thank you for finally doing so) with a “This just in…. preface. (OK – carrier pigeons I guess.)
This Twitter account, BringBackOurGirlshas fewer than 1700 followers as I post this. 1700 busloads of people traveled from Poland to Vatican City to participate in Sunday’s canonization mass (for contrast). How happy do you think St. JP II would be at the way these girls in this situation are being ignored?
This action Twitter account, RescueOurGirls has even fewer followers. Not even 500 as I post this. Shameful!
Let’s get it together! Girls are not property or pawns. Students deserve our respect and support. These girls are good, serious students. Their families love them and want them home.
They deserve to complete their studies and be what they aspire to be. They did not deserve to be kidnapped in the middle of their studies. They do not deserve to be sold off as child brides for $12 apiece.
Let’s get behind them! Let’s support them and their families!
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