Boko Haram abducts more girls, claim they are following God’s instructions

Boko Haram abducts more girls, claim they are following God’s instructions


More than three weeks ago the Islamist group Boko Haram abducted around 276 girls, ages 16-18, from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria. However reprehensible these abductions are, they are not surprising. The group has bombed many buildings including churches and mosques and they’ve kidnapped women and children in the past. In the first three months of 2014 they had already killed 1,500 people.

A year ago Boko Haram warned it would begin abducting girls and selling them off – a warning which the Nigerian government did not take seriously. Perhaps emboldened by the slow and inefficient response to the abduction of well over 200 girls, on Sunday Boko Haram abducted another eleven girls aged 12-15 from Warabe, a village in Borno state.  

The term Boko Haram translates to “Western education is forbidden” – the idea that Western-style education is harmful is one of the group’s guiding principles. Apart from famously attacking churches, it has also attacked several educational institutions. Previously though, Boko Haram militants have only killed male students and not targeted females directly. In one school attack, militants killed 29 male students and instructed female students to give up their studies and get married.

While the group obviously aims to cause pain and suffering, its members also operate with the view that their actions are justified. They believe Western-style education is sinful and therefore attack schools and students. According to their twisted logic, by taking girls out of school, they are doing the right thing. God’s will.

Serious rescue efforts are necessary, but it is likely that some of the girls may never be found. While in captivity the girls will be subject to forced marriages, a life of forced domestic labour, sexual slavery and other forms of physical and emotional abuse. Girls as young as 12 risk being impregnated by their captors. Even those who manage to escape, and indeed about 50 have managed this so far, or those who are rescued will be psychologically scarred by the experience. It has been reported that many of the girls have been sold into marriage for $12 within Nigeria but also Chad and Cameroon. Since then Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, has appeared on video saying “Allah instructed me to sell them, they are his property and I will carry out his instructions.”

Like all religious fundamentalist groups, Boko Haram does not believe in female equality or support female empowerment. Furthermore, it follows religious texts that back up the idea that men are more valuable than women. What Boko Haram members are doing, in their opinion, is putting females back in their place. They think they are doing the girls a service by putting them in the roles that God intended for them. Females should be wives, mothers and domestic servants. Education is sinful as it opens up a whole world of opportunities to women and girls outside of their God given roles. Boko Haram will abduct or kill as many people as possible, male or female, to stop the ‘scourge’ of Western-style education. Close to 300 girls have been abducted so far but many more girls in northern Nigerian could potentially drop out of school out of fear that they too may be abducted and sold into slavery.

We need not only to rescue the girls but also destroy Boko Haram once and for all. The group has existed for 12 years and has only grown stronger and bolder. The latest abductions are part of a string of attacks and abductions, and we can only expect more of the same. Use the hashtag #BringOurGirlsBack to show your support for the girls and to put pressure on the Nigerian government, whose feeble attempts at rescuing the girls will surely yield no positive results.



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