We Now Know Who Kidnapped Nigeria's Missing 'Chibok Girls,' And It's Not A Surprise
Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group operating in northeast Nigeria, took responsibility for the kidnapping in Nigeria of more than 200 young women in a video released Monday. The mass kidnapping, which occurred April 14, saw 240 young women, most aged 16-18, abducted from their beds at school where they were waiting to take exams in the northeast state of Borno — which the Nigerian government has increasingly had trouble wresting from militant control. Dozens of the girls have since escaped, but the fate of the remaining women (approximately 200) is unknown.
The girls have likely been sold as wives or slaves in neighboring Chad and Cameroon, forcibly married to the militants, or both. In the video released Monday, Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, says the group did abduct the young women and planned to sell them, according to a CNN translation from the original Hausa.
I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women.
It's strange, but typically brazen, of Boko Haram to take responsibility for the kidnappings now, when everyone already knew they were the ones to blame. Boko Haram is Hausa for "Western Education is Sinful," or "Western Education is Forbidden," which should be your first tip-off that they're behind the recent attacks on schoolchildren in the area that have had the intended effect of shuttering local schools out of fear for children's safety.
In February, Boko Haram killed 59 boys at a school in the same region. In fact, the boarding school where the Chibok students were studying was the only one open in the area when Boko Haram attacked. The students were there to take end-of-year exams.
The abduction of the Chibok girls, as they're being called on social media, and the inability of the Nigerian government to get the young women back has set off a firestorm in Nigeria that has reverberated around the world. It took weeks for the event to get the attention of international media, which some have attributed to the difficulty of reporting in the remote region and of accurately describing Boko Haram to a Western audience.
In a story that just keeps getting more heartbreaking, the women were reportedly sold to their captors as wives for about $12 a person. And "wife" is definitely the wrong term. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, who runs a women's shelter in Uganda, told Time that "marriage" was a euphemism for a much more universal crime against women.
This is not marriage. They are being given in sex slavery. This is human trafficking. We should call evil by its name.