This month I’ve watched as everyone talked about the mounting tension between the Ukraine and Russia, the Heartbleed superbug, the South Korean ferry disaster, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, NBA team-owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments, the banana that was thrown at Dani Alves of Atletico Barcelona fame, and whatever other news items were flying around. For at least a week now, I have been following the story of the 191-234 (reports vary on the number) kidnapped school girls in Borno State in Northeastern Nigeria on April 14.
The young girls were reportedly taken by Boko Haram, also known as Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad, an Islamic fundamentalist group founded in 2002 whose followers believe it is“‘haram,’ or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society.” Since 2011, Boko Haram has significantly ramped up its activity becoming the scourge of Nigeria and neighboring countries including Cameroon and Chad. In recent years, the group has claimed responsibility for violent incidents at mosques, churches, and other common high-traffic spaces where civilians are sure to be nearby. Thus far, according to Human Rights Watch, Boko Haram is responsible for the loss of at least 3,000 lives, at a conservative estimate.
Although the group has yet to claim any responsibility for the abductions, the girls represent the very embodiment of everything Boko Haram stands against. The Western educations these young women sought (at least in theory) make them less tractable to the abuse of a man and more threatening to the way of life Boko Haram bombs and strikes down ordinary citizenry all over Nigeria to construct and enforce. There are reports that the young women are being kept in the dense bush of the Sambisa Forest nature reserve where Boko Haram is purportedly based, that they are being sold and married off without their consent, or that of their parents.
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