Two years on, 219 schoolgirls remain “in enemy territory, held by savages”

April 14, 2016, marks the second anniversary of the overnight kidnapping of 276 girls by Islamist militants Boko Haram, from their school in Chibok, Nigeria. Apart from 57 girls who escaped early on, the rest remain missing.

At the Women in the World Summit in Los Angeles in February, co-founder of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, Obiageli Ezekwesili, spoke forcefully about her tireless work to save the girls from their captors. “These girls are not some mirage – they are real. These are girls who want to learn,” Ezekwesili said, calling out U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama’s advocacy for access to education for girls globally as falling short in keeping safe these girls who were getting an education.

“Well these girls went to school,” she pointed out. “And 219 of them are still in enemy territory, held by savages. And the world continues to advocate for other girls to go to school.

“How about using these girls as a symbol that when a girl goes to school, we — the world — would not leave them to the vagaries of the kinds of risk that 219 Chibok girls have been fearing, all alone?”

An image from a 'proof of life' video, allegedly shot on December 25, 2015, and obtained by CNN, shows several of the kidnapped Chibok girls. (YouTube/CNN)

An image from a ‘proof of life’ video, obtained by CNN, allegedly shows several of the kidnapped Chibok girls, filmed on December 25, 2015. (YouTube/CNN)

Writing for the The Globe and Mail on the two-year anniversary of the girls’ abduction, Ezekwesili asks “Why has the world forgotten about Nigeria’s missing girls?” She blasts the previous Nigerian government for botching the rescue strategy from the outset of the ordeal, and notes that in order to free the schoolgirls from the grips of a savage terror group, assistance from a government or governments is a necessity. Ezekwesili praises the girls for pursuing an education and called for people around the world not to forget them.

“Our ChibokGirls chose knowledge, believing in the benefits that learning promised for them and their families. They must not be abandoned by a world that seems to have quickly moved on after raising a sign of sympathy and hope for them,” she wrote in her column.

In a recent report, women who had escaped capture from Boko Haram said they were forced to enroll in Boko Haram’s classes on its version of Islam, and were taught how to perform suicide bombings. Former captors also claimed that captive women and girls were systematically raped.

Ezekwesili also said the kidnapping, and subsequent abuses of the girls, should not be seen as an atrocity that could only happen in Nigeria, and called for “complete decimation of this army of evil people, determined to assault our civilization.”

“It may seem far-fetched that any set of children, anywhere else in the world, can suffer what our Chibok girls have suffered but, in the world that we’re in today, the rate of emulation of bad behavior has so accelerated that we have to be careful not to appear to be incentivising bad behavior [through inaction.]”

On Tuesday, CNN reported on a video shot last December, that appeared to feature some of the girls kidnapped by militants two years ago. Emotional parents who were shown the video were able to identify at least 15 of the girls.

“We live in a world today where we cannot say that either our government or the rest of the world have, in any way, treated these young women as the global citizens that they are,” Ezekwesili told the Women in the World New York Summit last Wednesday, during a panel on African jihad. “And it’s something to be very, very worried about, because we don’t want a situation where forces of evil and extremism would get the idea that it’s perfectly okay to cut away young women — or young men, as the case may be — from the place of learning. It’s an assault on our civilization, our humanity.”


CNN obtains “proof of life” video showing schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram

Western governments reportedly knew location of Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram


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