News / Africa

    Who are Nigeria’s Kidnapped Schoolgirls?

    Protesters march in front of the Nigerian embassy in northwest Washington, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, protesting the kidnapping of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls, abducted from a school in the remote northeast of Nigeria three weeks ago.
    Protesters march in front of the Nigerian embassy in northwest Washington, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, protesting the kidnapping of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls, abducted from a school in the remote northeast of Nigeria three weeks ago.
    Heather Murdock
    Nearly four weeks after hundreds of teenage girls were kidnapped from their schoolhouse in northeast Nigeria, there are few verified details about who the girls are or  where they might be. 

    Nigerians said the missing girls — believed to be hidden in the forest, held captive by Islamist militants who regard them as slaves — are the daughters of their country.
     
    “We don’t need to have carried them in our wombs for those children to be called our own," a protester said. "They are our daughters and what we are saying is, 'Bring back our girls!'"
     
    But who exactly are they? Authorities have said 276 are still missing but have not provided a list of names or other identifying details. For the most part, the girls' families have not released the names, either.

    Ade Ogundeyin, who heads Proforce, a Nigerian security company, said one explanation for the confusion is possible social stigma: families assume the missing girls are being raped, and they do not want their daughters to be viewed as "dirty."

    “People do not like coming out to mention their names — the names of a certain person that’s missing — because of the effect that it has on the family setup in Nigeria,” he said.
     
    Another possibility is that in northeast Nigeria — deeply impoverished, poorly developed and devastated by the five-year-long Boko Haram insurgency — detailed school attendance records are not a priority.
     
    This may be why local officials say they don’t know exactly how many girls were taken or how many are still missing.
     
    “Do they even have the list of girls in that particular school? That’s a question you should even ask yourself. And yes, people showed up from different schools. Was that supposed to be? So there’s a bit of confusion there,” said Ogundeyin.
     
    On May 4, the Northern States Christian and Elders Forum sent out a list of 180 missing girls, saying most of the victims are Christian. But that list only contributed to controversy, since no one knew the source of the names that were distributed.
     
    Activists contend the girls should not be identified by religion, lest other groups lose interest in saving them.
     
    Over the past five years, Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in attacks on schools, churches, mosques, marketplaces and many other targets. Hundreds of school children have been slaughtered, and 1,500 people have been killed this year alone.
     
    In a video, Abubakar Shekau, the man who said he leads Boko Haram, claimed to be holding the girls as slaves to be sold into marriage.

    The video does not include pictures or video of any girls.
    • Former French first ladies Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (left) and Valerie Trierweiler (right) stand with politicians and entertainment artists holding a banner that reads "Leaders, bring back our girls" during a demonstration near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, May 13, 2014.
    • Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler stands near a placard that reads "Bring back our girls" during a demonstration to pressure government leaders to help search for the Nigerian schoolgirls, near the Eiffel Tower, Paris, May 13, 2014. 
    • Nigerians take part in a protest, called by Malaga's Nigerian women Association, for the release of the abducted schoolgirls, at La Merced square in Malaga, southern Spain May 13, 2014. 
    • Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, Nigeria's top military spokesman (left), Director General, National Orientation Agency, Mike Omeri (center) Frank Mba National police spokesman attend a press conference on the abducted school girls in Abuja, Nigeria, May 12, 2014.
    • Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, speaks to the camera in a video released by the extremist militant group, May 12, 2014.
    • This video released by the extremist militant group, Boko Haram, shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok, May 12, 2014.
    • Demonstrators carry a banner with an image of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau as they demand the release of the abducted schoolgirls, Lagos, Nigeria, May 12, 2014.
    • Protesters demonstrate against the kidnapping of the schoolgirls in Nigeria, outside the Nigerian Embassy, London May 9, 2014.
    • A sign is pinned to a tree during a demonstration against the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria, outside the Nigerian Embassy, in London, May 9, 2014. 
    • People carry signs as they attend a protest demanding the release of the schoolgirls who were abducted from the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos, May 9, 2014.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Doris Wolfgang from: Germany
    May 10, 2014 1:41 AM
    Some hard FACTS, VOA refuses to print:

    1. Obama administration responsible for resurgence of Al Qaeda groups (LIFG, AQIM) in Africa which in turn arm and support Boko Haram.

    2.USA State Department refuses to place Boko Haram on terrorist list for 2 years despite intense pressure.

    3. Weapons flowed from Obama supported Libyan rebels to Boko Haram.

    4. Algerian support for Algerian junta, which controls AQIM, has also aided Boko Haram.

    TELL THE REAL STORY, VOA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    In Response

    by: John Poole from: Ardmore, PA
    May 11, 2014 1:35 PM
    Yes indeed. It is a mess out there in the real world- not the one the Main Stream Press wants us to swallow. When Western culture first "colonized" Africa we did it under the banner of Christianity to the ignorant black folks. One can understand why any useful secular baggage from those days would be rejected by those who now want to get revenge for all the evangelical early work. A mess! Get used to it. This is Earth circa 2014 where the inhabitants are doing the usual thing- killing and enslaving under the lamest ideology and ethos.

    by: Bill Hash from: Cleveland Ohio
    May 09, 2014 4:48 PM
    20 million poisoned in the Niger delta by Oil companies. U.S. no comment.Christen girls kidnapped, now we care.
    In Response

    by: Phil K from: Newcastle UK
    May 11, 2014 1:26 AM
    Typical politically correct muslim apologist (who don't apologize, just grovel to islamist extremist bigots)
    In Response

    by: Pop from: California
    May 10, 2014 9:47 AM
    yes , both situations are bad .. but WE DO CARE. #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS
    In Response

    by: John Poole from: Ardmore, PA
    May 10, 2014 8:34 AM
    Why are Nigerian girls in a Muslim nation being introduced to Christianity? That misguided effort seems cruel. I doubt that any who miraculously became self actualizing would find a Westernized useful role in today's Nigeria.

    by: Michael forward from: lagos, nigeria
    May 09, 2014 4:16 PM
    God please save us from this TERRORISTS... And also. Please the nigerians forces, prove your ability on this case n may God assist you.... AMEN.

    by: ray from: las vegas
    May 09, 2014 3:09 PM
    Our Navy Seals should save them
    In Response

    by: iNSIDER from: usa
    May 10, 2014 1:43 AM
    Not if Hillary Clinton lies to everyone, and the FACT that the CIA had Seal Team sixes helicopter shot down. WAKE UP!!

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora