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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Opinion

Bring Back Our Girls loses media hype, despite girls still lost


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Semih Yusef/The Cougar

It has been more than six months since a group of Nigerian militants broke into an all-girls school and abducted more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls. The girls, ranging from ages 16 to 18, were forced into trucks that took them away from their homeland to a fortified camp in the middle of nowhere.

The Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted by a Nigerian terrorist group known as Boko Haram; a majority of the girls have not been seen since they were taken.

According to Fox News, the families of the abducted girls say they are confused but clinging to hope.

“I can’t believe they still haven’t been found. Something should be done,” said accounting sophomore Lacenia Calloway. “The Nigerian military should be on top of that and their president.”

NBC News reported that hundreds of girls have been captured, raped, forced into marriage and coerced into participating in ambushes.

These acts are described in detail in a 63-page investigative report by Human Rights Watch when they interviewed 30 individuals who were abducted by Haram between April 2013-2014 and 16 others who witnessed the abductions; the victims included 12 students of the Chibok School who managed to escape custody.

The news of the Nigerian girls missing broke in May. Nigerians created a campaign called Bring Back Our Girls, which grew all over the world via social media.

Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama, Adriana Lima and other faces have supported the campaign; however, this support is not doing enough.

“We have to save our girls, and I remember seeing Michelle Obama putting up a sign and there was a social media takeover with that,” Calloway said.

“I can’t believe they’re still not back and haven’t been found.”

Although the campaign made a major impact in the beginning, many have quickly forgotten about the girls. No attention has since been shed on the abducted women, girls and their families, nor has any major action been taken by any nation.

No country, not even the U.S., has reached out to assist Nigeria in the safe return of those stolen from their homes.

It has been a true heartbreak for a family to have their child taken. People seem to have forgotten that the defenseless girls are wondering if they will ever see their homes again.

According to the Human Rights Watch article, these women and girls are probably being subjected to physical and psychological abuse, as indicated by the victims who managed to escape and tell their story.

The Nigerian government has tried to negotiate a deal with Haram in exchange for the girls, and Haram wants the Nigerian government to release their members who have been put in jail in exchange for the girls.

Bashir Abbas, who commands a civilian militia group in Maiduguri, does not want the government to negotiate any type of deal that will free the prisoners.

“This cease-fire will not work. Boko Haram is untrustworthy,” Abbas said. “It’s only politicians who are talking about a cease-fire, but that is not the reality on ground.”

No agreement between Haram and the Nigerian government has been reached.  More girls have been taken since the first abduction in May.

Nigeria has the largest military in West Africa and also has a large police and security force. Many Nigerians feel their military has not been much help in keeping them safe or returning the girls.

According to Ottawa Citizen, Haram has scared off the military and security forces, leaving towns and villages at the mercy of the heartless thugs. Since the abduction, dozens — including the fathers of seven of the kidnapped girls — have been killed by the terrorists.

If these were American girls, it would be a complete outrage and on every international media outlet. Activism should not stop once the social media hype is over. The search for these girls is not over until they are safe at home.

It is time to bring these girls home and our government may not be able to get them right away, but our nation has a lot of power and we can speed up the process. It has been a unwanted journey for them and their families these past months, so it’s time for them to return home. 

Opinion columnist Faith Alford is a journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected] 

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