Bring Back Our Girls’ “School Girl March” seeks to raise awareness about Nigerian kidnappings


Photo from @WalesOnline on Twitter

Campaigners march in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, as a part of “School Girl March” to demand action over Nigerian schoolgirl abductions

Ilana Brandstetter, Staff Writer

Bring Back Our Girls, a social awareness campaign that started in California, is organizing a worldwide School Girl March today to raise awareness about the plight of 276 Nigerian girls abducted from their school by Islamic terrorists more than a month ago.

According to the Bring Back Our Girls website, the day will be a time when “school girls around the world will march together and show the world that all school girls can make a difference as they march for the Nigerian School girls who were kidnapped.”

On April 14, Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram (translation: Western education is forbidden) abducted 276 girls from their boarding school in Chibok, a town in northern Nigeria. The terrorists told the girls that they were there to save them.  Some of the girls managed to escape before they were taken captive.

The fate of the girls is uncertain.  However, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is quoted in a video saying, “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell.”

A Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs meeting on May 14 included information that the more than 200 kidnapped teenage girls are being held in a dense, tropical forest approximately the size of West Virginia.

“Parents should not have to be afraid to send their children to school,” said Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) at the meeting. “No child should live through the horror these girls have experienced, and no family should have to confront these threats alone.”

After more than a month after the kidnapping, neither the local nor the central Nigerian government alone has taken significant action to find the girls. Nigerian security forces are dealing with outdated surveillance technology and equipment, and they have turned to international intelligence aid. Lauren Ploch Blanchard, Specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service, said that many Nigerians think their military only responds to military attacks when the government, not civilians, is in danger.

The Girl Effect is an organization dedicated to “leveraging the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves, their families, their communities, their countries and the world.”  Their website features an infographic that shows the effect violence against women has on education.  In Zambia, 86 percent of girls do not go to school for fear of violence, and across the world, many young girls are pressured into marriage because of their parents’ fear of violence.

In “Bring Back Our Girls,” published in The New York Times on May 3, Nicholas Kristof wrote that “(t)he best tool to fight extremism is education, especially of girls—and that means ensuring that it is safe to study.  The greatest threat to militancy in the long run comes not from drones but from girls with schoolbooks.”