Last month, over two hundred Nigerian students seeking nothing but a fair education were kidnapped, as they stayed overnight at school to take a physics exam.
On April 14, 2014, members of a Muslim extremist group killed the guard at Chibok Government Girls Secondary School and kidnapped what, at the time, was counted to be 85 young women between the ages of sixteen and eighteen; it later turned out to be, after several parents reported missing children on that day, 234 students in all.
The kidnapping was swift and ruthless, the vilest of four attacks the terrorist group had made that week. According to one of the few dozen women who escaped, the terrorists had first presented themselves as being affiliated with the government, saying, “Don’t worry, we’re soldiers. Nothing is going to happen to you.” However, as they started loading the students in pickup trucks and setting fire to the empty schoolrooms, it soon became clear that the government did not authorize the men. The student interviewed by the Associated Press, in fact, recognized exactly what terrorist group was launching through this vicious attack: “Boko Haram. They . . . started shouting ‘Allahu Akhbar’ (God is great), and we knew.” Later, as she was forced to ride through dense forests in the back of a pickup truck with several other students, she noticed a car in hot pursuit, apparently driven by actual government soldiers. However, the car broke down, and not seeing any vehicles following the one in which they were riding, she and a friend decided to jump out.
But others were not so bold, either cooperating with their captors out of fear of their sheer numbers and weaponry or failing in their attempts to escape. The plight of these unfortunate souls is brutal; many now serve as porters, cooks, and sex slaves for their oppressors, but their ultimate fate if the terrorist group is not stopped is to be sold into lifelong slavery. Shekau, the extremist leader, shamelessly expressed his intentions to intermediaries: “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
Boko Haram, the terrorist group in question, bears a name that translates to “Western Education is Sin.” Their goal is to establish a strict Islamic Sharia state in Nigeria, and they firmly believe that women should not be educated. Both the United States and Britain have found this to be an unacceptable violation of human rights and are taking action to alleviate the situation. “In the short term, our goal is obviously to help the international community, and the Nigerian government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young ladies,” President Obama announced. “We’re also going to have to deal with the broader problem of organizations like this which can wreak such havoc in peoples’ day to day lives.”
Hopefully, our government holds true to its word and does everything within its power to uphold the fundamental rights of the captured students.
– Jesse McMilin