Samson Dawah was nervous. For two weeks, he had waited for any bit of information regarding his niece, who was among the 234 Nigerian school girls likely kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. This week, he gathered his extended family. He had news but also an unusual request. He asked that the elderly not attend. He wasn’t sure they could bear what he had to say.
“We have heard from members of the forest community where they took the girls,” he told them. ”They said there had been mass marriages and the girls are being shared out as wives among the Boko Haram militants.”
The girl’s father fainted, the Guardian reported, and has since been hospitalized. But the news got worse. Village elder Pogo Bitrus told Agence France Presse locals had consulted with “various sources” in the nation’s forested northeast. “From the information we received yesterday from Cameroonian border towns our abducted girls were taken… into Chad and Cameroon,” he said, adding that each girl was sold as a bride to Islamist militants for 2,000 naira — $12.
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Scores of girls and young women kidnapped from a school in Nigeria are being forced to marry their Islamic extremist abductors, a civic organization reported Wednesday.
At the same time, the Boko Haram terrorist network is negotiating over the students’ fate and is demanding an unspecified ransom for their release, a Borno state community leader told The Associated Press.
He said the Wednesday night message from the abductors also claimed that two of the girls have died from snake bites.
BOSTON — Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday called on people across the world to speak out against the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian girls, highlighting violence against women, climate change and economic inequality as areas where those in America and abroad must come together.
“All over the world there are places where men’s identity is all caught up in whether they get to tell women what to do and restrict their choices,” Clinton said. “We have to develop a sense of identity which is inclusive.”Read more >>>>
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.
The kidnapping of over 300 teenage girls at Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in Nigeria has captivated attention and headlines across the world, inspiring outrage, compassion, and calls to action. The girls were taken by Boko Haram, whose very name declares that education is sinful.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the girls, their families and those working to bring them home safely.
These devastating acts reflect a much larger problem – girls are being targeted and threatened with violence, kidnapping and more just for seeking an education.
That’s why the global community must stay committed to helping protect and promote girls’ education around the world so that every girl has the opportunity to live up to her full potential.
The numbers tell a hopeful story about progress in girls’ access to education over the past two decades. Here are some important facts and statistics about girls’ education in Nigeria and across the globe, and why protecting schools like Chibok is vital to girls, women, and the world.
FACTS: Why Education Matters
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2013 shows that where the gender gap is closest to being closed in a range of areas—including access to education, health survivability, economic participation, and political participation—countries and economies are more competitive and prosperous.
Half of the reductions of child mortality between 1970 and 1990 can be attributed to increased education for women of reproductive age.*
A 2011 World Bank report found that investing in girls’ education and opportunities in Nigeria and 13 other developing nations could increase a country’s gross domestic product by 1.2% in a single year.
A 2002 study on the effect of education on average wages estimates that primary school education increases girls’ earnings by 5 to 15 % over their lifetimes.
FACTS: The Gaps that Remain
Girls and women continue to make up the largest share of the world’s illiterate population (61.3%), and literacy rates in Nigeria hover around 50 to 60%.
Gender gaps are especially wide in places like Sub-Saharan Africa, where 40.1 % of girls and 33.1 % of boys are not enrolled in secondary schools like Chibok. This translates into 11.8 million girls in the region not accessing the education they need to attend university, find work, achieve financial independence, and contribute to a growing economy.**
Girls also face early marriage as barrier to education, and should the girls from Chibok be sold into slavery or forced marriages, their chances of achieving their dreams will be all but dashed. In a study conducted in Kenya, researchers found that a marriage partner is associated with a 78 % increased risk of termination of secondary schooling.
Globally, there are 37.4 million girls not enrolled in lower secondary school compared to 34.2 million boys, a gap of 3.2 million.***
It’s an unfortunate reality that it takes an act of courage to seek an education in places like Nigeria. But the girls at Chibok, despite the threats, pursued an education because they and their families understood just how valuable it is. Their resolve will set an example for generations to come and exemplifies the importance of working for the advancement of girls and women across the world so that every girl has a chance to go to school, fulfill her dreams, and break the ceilings and barriers she encounters.
This Mother’s Day, let’s remember the mothers who are missing their daughters, in Nigeria and around the world.
* Emmanuela Gakidou et al., “Increased Educational Attainment and Its Effect on Child Mortality in 175 Countries between 1970 and 2009: A Systematic Analysis,” The Lancet 376, no. 9745 (September 2010): 959–74. Although economic growth was also significantly associated with reductions in child mortality, the magnitude of the association was much smaller than that of increased education. 21 regions, approximately 4 million out of the 8 million children whose lives were saved can be attributed to education for women.
** Shelley Clark and Rohini Mathur, “Dating, Sex, and Schooling in Urban Kenya,” Studies in Family Planning 43, no. 3 (September 2012): 161–74.
*** UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Global Education Digest 2011: Comparing Education Statistics across the World (Montreal, Quebec: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011).
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.
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