21 Nigerian Girls Have Been Released from Boko Haram Imprisonment

Early Thursday morning in a northeastern town in Nigeria, 21 young women were released from the captivity of Boko Haram, an extremist group. The International Committee of the Red Cross announced that the girls had been rescued and were under the care and protection of the Nigerian government.

In April of 2014, 276 girls were seized from the school where they were sleeping in Chibok, Nigeria. You may remember this news as part of the #BringBackOurGirls internet activism that it prompted, which Michelle Obama herself participated in.

Boko Haram is an Islamist extremist organization, and was founded in 2002 on the basis that the Nigerian government is in need of a kind of spiritual Islamic salvation from its growing inclination towards Western ways of life. Its violent operations began in 2009, with attacks on “both civilians and the military” of Nigeria, according to the BBC.


Soon after the initial kidnapping, a group of 57 girls was able to flee the forest they were being held in, leaving 219 captives. One of these women, Amina Ali Nkeki, was found and rescued this past May. During their captivity, most of the young women and girls are believed to have been forced to marry Boko Haram soldiers.

“No captive Boko Haram fighters were released in exchange for the girls,” CNN reports.

This victory on behalf of the kidnapped Nigerian women should absolutely be celebrated, but we can't forget the women who remain in captivity. Efforts towards rescuing them should stay top-of-mind for the Nigerian government and other humanitarian organizations.

It's also important to keep talking about the implications of using female bodies as negotiating pawns in political affairs. The kidnapping of these young women and girls is a feminist issue.