It’s been three weeks since armed attackers stormed a school dormitory in Chibok, northern Nigeria and abducted nearly 300 girls—most of whom have not been seen since and are feared to have been sold into sexual slavery in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.
Just yesterday, it was reported that eight more girls between the ages of 12 and 15 were abducted from Warabe in north eastern Nigeria.
In a video message obtained Monday, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram is said to have officially claimed responsibility, stating: “Western education should end. Girls, you should go and get married…I will sell them in the market.”
For weeks, activists within Nigeria and around the world have taken to the streets and social media to protest the Nigerian government’s sorely lacking efforts to locate the girls and prosecute their abductors, and the slow response of mainstream media to cover the situation. It was only last Sunday, after weeks of silence, that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan publicly pledged to find the girls (on Friday he met with advisors to create a “fact-finding committee”). Shortly after, however, it was also reported that the First Lady of Nigeria, Patience Johnathan, ordered the arrest of protest leaders calling for the return of the girls.
Equality Now is actively working with our Nigerian partners, Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) and Alliance for Africa (AFA), on legal strategies to use and are contacting Nigerian and Cameroon embassies to find out exactly what their countries are doing on this issue. WRAPA, AFA and other organizations are extremely concerned that these abductions will continue until Nigeria prioritizes and takes action to protect the safety and rights of girls and women who are increasingly vulnerable in conflict regions.
Gender-based violence in Nigeria is on the rise and similar abductions have occurred in the past. Starting today, Nigeria is hosting the World Economic Forum in Africa conference and we need your help to keep up the pressure on the Nigerian government to take immediate action to locate and rescue the missing schoolgirls, prosecute those responsible for their abduction and exploitation, and to take measures to protect the safety and human rights of girls throughout the country.
Here are three steps you can take today in the campaign to #BringBackOurGirls:
1. Post daily on your social media networks to keep up the pressure using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Social media has been leading the charge to focus the world’s attention on the plight of the schoolgirls, directly leading to increased mainstream press coverage and responses from government officials and international organizations around the world. Keep up on breaking news & developments on Twitter (follow @equalitynow and the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls) and Facebook (facebook.com/equalitynoworg.) Please retweet, share, and like our posts to spread the word & keep up the pressure on decision makers! You can start by clicking on the image at the top of this email & sharing it on Facebook. You can also click HERE to view this email in a web browser & share the link with your contacts and on social media.
2. Contact representatives in your government and ask them to put pressure on the Nigerian government to take immediate action to rescue the girls, prosecute those who are responsible and provide support services for the girls once they are rescued.
3. Equality Now will be releasing an Action soon targeting officials we feel have the authority and ability to rescue the girls. As soon as it hits your inbox or you see it on our Twitter or Facebook pages, sign it! In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, please sign Nigerian student Ify E.’s change.org petition calling on world leaders to support all efforts to ensure the girls’ safe return.
Together we can #BringBackOurGirls.
Yasmeen Hassan & Faiza Jama Mohamed
Global Director | Nairobi Office Director