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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

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!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs