If you are a parent, imagine your child is missing. You cannot find him or her. Gone. Nothing you can do. If you are not a parent, try to imagine how it must feel to have a loved one, the most loved one, taken from you. It is heart-wrenching. Gut-churning. Evil.
The parents of 219 girls in Nigeria are living this. Their daughters were stolen from them two months ago, and they are still missing. Two months. Just imagine that. Your precious child – gone – a hole in your family, now for 60 days.
Voice of America is reporting that while 57 of the girls who were initially kidnapped by Boko Haram were able to escape, the whereabouts of 219 are still unknown.
The latest figures on the number of missing girls come from a final report released by a government fact-finding committee appointed by [Nigerian] President Goodluck Jonathan.
Submitting the final report, Brigadier General Ibrahim said Friday that the militants initially took 276 girls, but 57 escaped — either as the trucks drove away or soon after.
Sabo said his committee members met with resistance when they visited Chibok last month to talk to some of the escaped girls. The militants raided a secondary school in Chibok village and forced the students onto trucks.
The girls who have escaped and their families are being protected due to fear of reprisal from Boko Haram. Also, many details of the report given to the Nigerian government are being kept secret, in hopes that information in the report may lead to the location of the school girls.
Girls are an easy target for extremists – they are not physically strong, they are easy to control through fear and sexual abuse. We hear of incidents in India, Iraq, Afghanistan. Many times, the “crime” the girls are committing is fighting to become educated. Gordon Brown, special envoy to the United Nations for Global Education:
The killings, the rapes, the mutilations, the trafficking and the abductions shock western eyes because the assaults seem so out of the ordinary.
However, they are not isolated incidents, but part of a pattern where the violation of girls is commonplace. A pattern where girls’ rights are still only what rulers decree and where girls’ opportunities are no more than what patriarchs decide.
Consider this. This week, and every week, at least 200,000 school-age girls in Africa and Asia — many just ten, 11, 12 or 13 years old — will be married off against their will because they have no rights that can stop this occurring.
Thousands more will be subjected to genital mutilation because they have no power to stop a practice designed to make them acceptable as child-brides and for adolescent childbirth.
And girls as young as eight, nine and ten will be in full‑time work, down mines, in factories, working the fields and in domestic service. Many will be trafficked into prostitution as part of a subterranean world of slave labour.
They are children who have a right to be at school. Today, almost 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are in the midst of a liberation struggle that has yet to establish every girl’s right to life, education and dignity.
219 missing girls. 219 girls who represent the wicked repression of the human spirit, human dignity and the right for all young people to be educated safely and in freedom. 219 stolen girls. Let’s not forget.