The conditions in Nigeria have recently become rather frightening. In many parts of the country Islamic extremists are becoming stronger, and that makes it very dangerous for anyone who’s involved with Western culture in any way. On April 15, 2014, 276 Nigerian girls between the ages of 16 and 18 were abducted from their school in the city of Chibok, where they were about take their Senior School Certificate Examination. This standardized test is one of the English-language exams students in Africa can take if they are interested in applying to Western universities. The men who abducted them were protesting the Western system of education the girls had received.
A few weeks later on May 6, another 8 girls between ages 12 and 15 were kidnapped from their village, Warabe. The men who took them reportedly yelled “Allahu Akbar” (translation: “God is Great”) during the kidnapping, which led authorities to believe they are associated with the Chibok abductions. The kidnappers are likely part of the Boko Haram group of Islamic terrorists who believe Western education is ungodly. Here are a few more details surrounding the abductions, as well some things you can do to help.
Social Unrest and Islamic Extremists
Unfortunately, the April 15 kidnapping was not the first of its kind. Since May of 2013, northeastern Nigeria has been in an official state of emergency due to growing social unrest and missed crop cycles. More than 10,000 Nigerian refugees have been displaced to neighboring counties. This chaos has made terrorism possible, and acts of violence against students have escalated in the past year.
In September of 2013, Islamic extremists killed 78 students and teachers in the town of Gujba. Then in late February of this year, members of the Boko Haram extremists killed 43 male students at the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, a high school in northeastern Nigeria. Similar to the Chibok attack, female students were not killed, though they were told to get married and abandon their Western education.
A Dangerous City and Sluggish Government
Furthermore, the city where the April 15 attack took place was known to be dangerous. When the examinations were held in Chibok last year, Boko Haram terrorists attacked and killed three teachers. The West African Examination Council was worried a similar incident may also occur during this year’s testing. The council issued multiple warnings to the local government, but they were unfortunately not taken seriously enough.
Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno, claimed there was enough security at the test site and it was not necessary to move the tests out of Chibok. Since the kidnapping, the Nigerian government has also been slow to respond at best. This has caused people around the country to protest, which has only led to more violence and unrest.
Improved Outlook for the Kidnapped Girls
At first, the outlook didn’t look good for the kidnapped girls. According to a video released by Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram, the group plans to sell the girls as slaves. By some reports, they could sell for as little as $12. Mixed messages from the Nigerian government and hostel negotiations have had the world worried that the possibility of release of the girls is slim. However, new developments have inspired hope in the families of the Nigerian girls. Britain, France and the United States have offered support through sending troops, military experts and advisers to the region. Additionally, the American government has offered the use of drones to pinpoint the girls location. Perhaps the biggest sign of hope is the Nigerian government admitted to knowing where the girls are being held and are planning rescue missions. However, the government has remained tight-lipped about any details surrounding the rescue efforts.
What You Can Do
The situation is far from hopeless, and there are things you can do to improve the outlook for the Nigerian girls. First, be sure to spread awareness of the situation. On Twitter, using the hashtags #BringBackOurGirls, #StolenDreams and #StopShekau will help make and keep more people aware of what’s happening. You can also sign petitions to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and United States authorities to continue their rescue efforts.
Furthermore, helping to improve social conditions in Nigeria could make it easier for the country to bring its girls home. Little things like helping farmers buy used construction equipment to help with the harvest could really make a difference both now and in the future. If you can, donate money to organizations like Chime for Change, which has a fund for the Nigerian girls, as well as organizations like the Women’s Consortium of Nigeria, Nigerian Red Cross and Amnesty International.
If everyone does a small part to help the girls, they will have a much better chance of finding their way home.