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.

Published 6:10 am Wed, Apr 30, 2014

About the Author

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: xeni@boingboing.net.

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