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.

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    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!!

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