U.S. Politicians Are Finally Paying Attention to Nigeria’s Abducted Girls

“#BringBackOurGirls,” Hillary Clinton tweeted Sunday.

A woman carries placard to press for the release of missing Chibok school girls during a rally by civil society in Lagos on May 5, 2014.
National Journal
Emma Roller
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Emma Roller
May 6, 2014, 1:37 p.m.

More than 200 girls are miss­ing in Ni­ger­ia after a ter­ror­ist group ab­duc­ted them from their board­ing school with the in­tent of selling them in­to slavery or child mar­riages.

The girls, who are between 16 and 18 years old, were about to take their fi­nal ex­ams at the Gov­ern­ment Sec­ond­ary School in the north­east­ern town of Chibok in Ni­ger­ia. But at mid­night on April 15, mem­bers of the ter­ror­ist group Boko Haram broke in­to the school and ab­duc­ted 276 fe­male stu­dents.

From the Guard­i­an:

They shot guards and ab­duc­ted about 200 stu­dents, who were loaded in­to trucks and, it seems, taken off in­to the forest. Two groups of the girls, per­haps 30 in all, man­aged to es­cape. The rest have simply dis­ap­peared.

Ini­tially, the story was largely ig­nored by much of the West­ern news me­dia. But a push for the United States and oth­er coun­tries to take ac­tion against Boko Haram seems to be fo­ment­ing. A Change.org pe­ti­tion call­ing for world lead­ers to band to­geth­er and res­cue the girls has amassed more than 330,000 sig­na­tures. Pro­test­ers gathered in Wash­ing­ton and New York City over the week­end to speak out against the girls’ ab­duc­tion.

And on Twit­ter, the hasht­ag #Bring­Back­Our­Girls has ac­cu­mu­lated nearly 1 mil­lion mes­sages. “Ac­cess to edu­ca­tion is a ba­sic right & an un­con­scion­able reas­on to tar­get in­no­cent girls,” Hil­lary Clin­ton tweeted on Sunday. “We must stand up to ter­ror­ism. #Bring­Back­Our­Girls”

Eight more girls, ages 12 to 15, were ab­duc­ted Monday night. Pres­id­ent Obama said Tues­day that the U.S. would con­trib­ute to the ef­fort to find the girls.

Boko Haram has un­abashedly taken re­spons­ib­il­ity for the ab­duc­tion. “I ab­duc­ted your girls,” the group’s lead­er, Abubakar Shekau, said in a video re­leased Monday. “Just be­cause I took some little girls who were in West­ern edu­ca­tion, every­body is mak­ing noise. Let me tell you: I took the girls…. I re­peat, I took the girls, and I will sell them off. There is a mar­ket for selling girls.”

Since 2009, the Is­lam­ist in­sur­gency in the re­gion led by Boko Haram has left thou­sands of people dead, the BBC re­ports.

On Tues­day, the wo­men of the U.S. Sen­ate called on Pres­id­ent Obama to take ac­tion. They asked the ad­min­is­tra­tion to ap­ply the same sanc­tions to Boko Haram — which re­portedly has ties to al-Qaida — that the U.S. has im­posed on al-Qaida and oth­er ter­ror­ist groups on the United Na­tions Se­cur­ity Coun­cil’s sanc­tions list.

“In the face of the brazen nature of this hor­rif­ic at­tack, the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity must im­pose fur­ther sanc­tions on this ter­ror­ist or­gan­iz­a­tion,” a let­ter from the fe­male sen­at­ors reads. “Boko Haram is a threat to in­no­cent ci­vil­ians in Ni­ger­ia, to re­gion­al se­cur­ity, and to U.S. na­tion­al in­terests.”

And its mor­al in­terests, too.

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