We Need to Take a Stand Against Child Abductions #BringBackOurGirls

April 14 marked three years since the abduction of 276 girls from a government boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria by a militant Islamic group named Boko Haram. Some girls managed to escape on the night of the abduction, but since the abduction, only about 100 girls have been released through negotiations between the Nigerian government and the Boko Haram. Some girls have been exchanged for Boko Haram prisoners.

So, why were these girls abducted?

Boko Haram is an extremist Islamist group. The group views western society’s politics and social activities to be “haram”, or forbidden for Muslims to take a part of. This group thinks that receiving a secular education should be forbidden as well, hence why they targeted a government school. Some of the girls that managed to escape have said that the militants said, "You're only coming to school for prostitution. Boko [Western education] is haram [forbidden] so what are you doing in school?" The girls under captivity are being deprived of their freedom, education, and are most likely being forced to be wives to male members and forced to convert to Islam. There are even some reports that some of these girls may have died. The village in which this school was located was also raided and looted. Some villagers were taken captive and forced into work, the boys forced to fight, and the girls forced to marry the men in the group.

The Incident's Global Attention

This event received a lot of global attention thanks to the the internet. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls brought the world together as one to stand in solidarity with the people affected by the abduction. This global attention is necessary to hold the Nigerian government accountable for the safety and wellbeing of its citizens. Other countries have offered to assist Nigeria in the search and recovery of these girls. The Chibok abduction has not been the only or largest abduction, but it is the only one that has gotten mass attention. However, there have been many others that Nigerian officials have refused to acknowledge: The Human Rights Watch reports that 500 women and children were abducted from Damask in November of 2014.

It may be easy to overlook the disappearance of a single child amidst the many annual cases of missing and disappeared children, but when children are taken in masses it should not be overlooked and should be getting more media coverage. Children are an easy target for these extremist Islamist groups because they can be used for many things. Some are recruited to join the fighting forces to carry out horrible missions, some are used as suicide bombers, and the little ones are often placed in Islamic schools.  The abduction of these children has not received as much attention as the Chibok girls, but it is important to look after the children that are affected by unfortunate events such as religious wars and acts of terror.