Articles from multiple sources (such as BBC and Al Jazeera) yesterday reported that over 100 schoolgirls have been abducted by armed men in Nigeria (CNN and other sources reported a higher figure, but many more have stated it’s closer to 100). This happened relatively soon after the bombing near the capital – Abuja. Many suspect it is Boko Haram, although there has (once again) been no confirmation from them. Firstly, there was the fact that they were armed. Secondly, some of the vehicles used included motorcycles – apparently a trademark for Boko Haram. Thirdly, the group name translates to ‘Western education is forbidden/sinful’ (heard both versions – would like a definitive answer). It means that they are obviously going to target anything that is similar to the style of education that we are used to.
Apparently there was a security guard, but he was overpowered (unsurprising that one person against many armed people would be problematic).
A history of kidnapping/abduction
Nigeria doesn’t do well in this area. A simple Google search reveals many articles from recent years, including this one which mentions that there were 887 kidnap cases reported over a two year period There’s also this one about a ‘wave’ of kidnapping (published in 2009).
The Bureau of Consular Affairs for the US Department of State has a page which notes that Nigeria is also not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Oh dear.
On the UNICEF website, there is a report called ‘Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Nigeria‘ (from 2011/12). The following is an extract:
“Children, and particularly girls, are exceptionally vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and suffer serious consequences such as abduction, sexual abuse, and rape during armed conflict and emergency situations, which may result in unwanted pregnancy and HIV infection. This is particularly acute where girls have been internally displaced or have become refugees in another country as a result of armed conflict.”
There’s also this:
“The Nigerian police not only fail to protect the rights of children, but have also been directly involved in the violation of the protection rights of the child in many reported instances.”
This Telegraph article mentions that Islamic extremists have historically abducted girls and used them for cooks and sex slaves in Nigeria.
On the CIA World Factbook, you’ll see a 2014 estimate that 43.2% of the population is 0-14 years old. For those wanting to abduct child (for whatever reason), there is a large pool to choose from.
As yet, there is no real news about finding the abducted children or specific information about bringing the abductors to justice. This is a great shame. Such a high figure of abductions in a single incident should be huge news that demands a speedy response from the government. Improving provisions for the protection of children (especially in schools) would surely help President Jonathan to increase his chances of retaining his job too. The aforementioned World Factbook statistic, along with all the recent and historic articles, show that something big needs to be done soon.
I truly feel sorry for the parents and the family of these children. They will (understandably) going mad with worry. The children face an uncertain future though, with the possibility that their valuable childhood and innocence could be ripped from them.
There have been several articles about the abduction – not just the ones I’ve linked to in this post (do a Google search and you’ll see what I mean). However, there’s an unfortunate pattern in some where not all the article is about the abduction and there is too much about the bombing. Parents of all nationalities, as well as Nigerians living in the UK and across the world, would surely like to have as much relevant information as possible.
Despite all the articles I found about this, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if a similar event took place in e.g. the UK or the US. I imagine the media coverage would be huge. I know it’s easier for some to relate to people from their own country, but a child is a child – whatever the nationality. How would you feel if you were a parent in this situation?
I repeat – there is no confirmation that this was the fault of Boko Haram. However, there is some evidence that suggests it was them.
Also, just imagine this for a minute – what if there was a family affected by both the recent bombing and this school abduction? Anyone in that situation would think – ‘why me?’.
I hope the children are returned to their families soon. I hope they can get on with their normal lives. I hope that whoever abducted them is brought to justice.
So, what do you think?