Where Are Our Girls?
An unidentified mother cries out during a demonstration with others who have daughters among the kidnapped school girls of government secondary school Chibok, Tuesday April 29, 2014, in Abuja, Nigeria. (AP / Gbemiga Olamikan)
Published Monday, May 5, 2014 4:34PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 5, 2014 6:49PM EDT
The girls were sound asleep. They were hoping to get as much rest as possible before final exams. Then sometime after 10 p.m., the girls were torn from their beds and shoved into trucks. For 19 nights the parents of those girls have watched the sun set and wondered: Where are our girls? Who took them?
Freelance journalist Alexis Okeowo spoke to Deborah Sanya, an 18-year-old from Chibok who was one of those abducted. Sanya said that she awoke to find men dressed in military gear. They told the girls not to worry, that everything was going to be okay. But it wasn’t.
By the noon the next day, the girls arrived at a Boko Haram camp. The terrorist group forced the girls to cook and clean. That night, Sanya fled on foot.
The fate of those left behind remains uncertain and parents haven’t heard a whisper from their stolen girls. There were rumours they would be sold as brides, but mostly there was silence – until today. Abubakar Shekau, who claims to be the leader of the terrorist group, released a video saying Boko Haram has more than 200 girls. Their fate? They will either be sold or used as slaves, he said.
As Kevin Newman Live described last week, this is a story almost too unbearable to tell. How could more than 200 girls be abducted from their school in the middle of the night? And are the rumours true that they’ve been sold as brides?
When I first started researching this story last week I thought surely every resource available is being used to bring back the girls. The Nigerian government won’t rest until every girl is back with her parents.
But three weeks in, that’s not the case. Nigerian President Goodluck Johnathan broke his silence on the matter only yesterday. He pledged to free the girls, but for many parents, those words are too little, too late.
As Nigeria stalls, other countries are stepping in. Canada’s foreign affairs minister has condemned the kidnappings and this weekend rallies were held in Canada to raise awareness. And now the U.S. is getting involved. White House spokesman Jay Carney says the government will help Nigeria by providing counterterrorism support and logistics.
But as the sun sets again in Nigeria, the parents of the stolen girls continue to wait and hope their government will act, and the world will not turn away until their girls are brought back home – where they belong.