/ Xeni Jardin / 6 am Wed, Apr 30 2014
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  • Where are the stolen girls of Nigeria? And why don't we care more?

    Where are the stolen girls of Nigeria? And why don't we care more?

    Maybe if the more than 200 Nigerian girls abducted from their school weeks ago were on a ferry in Korea, a jet liner in the Indian Ocean, or were white, the world would pay more attention. Xeni Jardin on why it took so long for America to notice an intractable tragedy unfolding abroad.

    Islamist Boko Haram militants. Photo: Reuters


    Islamist Boko Haram militants. Photo: Reuters

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    Three weeks ago in the remote northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok, over 200 girls were kidnapped from their boarding school dormitories in the middle of the night. By some reports, as many as 275 children may have abducted; more than 40 escaped. The militants who abducted the mostly 16-18 year old girls are from Boko Haram -- a group whose name means "Western Education is Forbidden." As the name implies, they are on a murderous campaign to eliminate education in West Africa.

    Reports are surfacing this week that the militants are treating the girls as sexual slaves, "marrying" them to soldiers who have carried them off to neighboring states including Chad and Cameroon. In plain words, this means the girls are being raped and impregnated against their will -- and who knows what additional forms of torture and abuse, or how many have died.

    Why has this story received so little attention in the West?

    For example, the New York Times has published exactly one reported piece, on April 17. Perhaps if the girls were on a ferry in Korea, a jet liner in the Indian Ocean, in the owner's box at a Clippers basketball game, or if they were white, we'd care more.

    Today in Nigeria, women are marching to demand more resources to find the young women.

    In the New Yorker, the voice of a girl who escaped and survived.

    From an NPR report:

    "It's a situation of present, continuous agony. Everybody is terrified at the thought of what they might be going through. There's just no reason why these girls could have been targeted. They're so innocent, so harmless," [Author Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani] says. "They're probably Muslim and Christian. It's frightening. They're not being seen as Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo [three of Nigeria's major ethnic groups]. They're not being seen as northerners or easterners. They're just seen as children."

    Photo: Reuters. Families of kidnapped schoolgirls attend a meeting with the local government in the remote town of Chibok, Nigeria.


    Photo: Reuters. Families of kidnapped schoolgirls attend a meeting with the local government in the remote town of Chibok, Nigeria.

    Some of the women who'd gathered (7hrs) early at Unity Fountain for the rally. #Bringbackourgirls #Nigeria #Abuja pic.twitter.com/PFQN2FnFDv

    — Nkem Ifejika (@nkemifejika) April 30, 2014

    By joining the March today, you are make a statement that these our Girls' MOTHERS are not ALONE in their pain. pic.twitter.com/ikdeU043VY

    — oby ezekwesili (@obyezeks) April 30, 2014

    My students decided 2 show solidarity 4 d missin #Chibok girls in der own lil way #BringBackOurGirls @mishalhusainbbc pic.twitter.com/jVycMzqB8D

    — Adetola Adekunle (@mrpirazzy) April 30, 2014

    @obyezeks calling protesters together to commence march for release of abducted Chibok girls. #BringBackOurGirls pic.twitter.com/BvXgOm3c7x

    — Waziri Adio (@Waziriadio) April 30, 2014

    House of Commons, United Kingdom, wades into Chibok Girls saga ... Letter below pic.twitter.com/d7q0DzVBlb

    — APC United Kingdom (@APCUKingdom) April 30, 2014

    President Jonathan - Where are our Chibok daughters? Pls bring them home #BringBackOurGirls! http://t.co/oGHq7FxPcC pic.twitter.com/y7ONfSWqmD

    — Skytrend News (@SkytrendNews) April 30, 2014

    / / 55 COMMENTS

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    Notable Replies

    1. This is a tragic story that needs to be reported , hopefully bringing much needed attention, which in turn might help in the lost childrens plight.

      But I don't subscribe to pointed the race finger.

      The lack of attention is more a matter of class and wealth. Its very hard to identify with people living in such a different life that its almost like they are in a different age.

      Its also partly because we have become immune to African atrocities. Too much too often. If planes went missing every month we wouldn't care about them either. We have become immune to what's happening in Syria. This is unfortunately part of being human. This is not an excuse just a perspective.

    2. Don't paint the entire 'west' like that. In the UK its getting regular (nearly daily) coverage in the radio and print media.

    3. I cared since I first heard the story on NPR. But what can I actually do about it besides sit here and wring my hands and say "isn't this awful?" What action can I take that will help bring them home? (That's a real question.)

    4. Yup. The BBC just did a segment on it, talking to Malala Yousufsai to get her perspective. That may be a bit of useless CNNization (lets talk to a flight instructor from Canada!), but it's sort of the opposite of forgetting "in the West."

      If we want CNN (American media) to cover this, we must first drive ad-funded news out of existence. Advertising makes journalism something else, a journalism-like substance built for a different purpose entirely. That purpose is only eyeballs—not comprehension, not overview, not perspective—only eyeballs.

    Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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