They could be our girls

Imagine for a moment, that as a parent of a young girl, you receive a call from her school telling you that your daughter has been abducted at gunpoint.

There would be nothing on earth that would stop you from trying to rescue your daughter. And you would pursue any possible help needed to secure her safe return.

This incident did happen on April 14 in the small farming town of Chibok in Nigeria. And it happened because a militant group named the Boko Haram does not think these girls should be educated.

The facts are as simple as that. But the world’s reaction to what happened is not.

While Nigeria is a land far away to which most of us will never travel, each one of the 223 girls who remain missing are not that different from our own children. They were in a boarding school, having just finished a physical education exam. They were drifting off to sleep when they were taken. Their dreams of becoming teachers, lawyers, doctors and veterinarians are now in danger, just as they are.

The group that has taken them has been waging a war of terror in Nigeria for five years, specifically taking aim at Western education. Their name loosely translates to “Western education is sin.” The group has killed at least 2,300 people since 2010.

Many days have passed since the kidnapping, and the U.S. has finally issued a statement.

Just last weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry vowed that Washington will do “everything possible” to help Nigeria deal with Boko Haram militants, following the kidnapping of the schoolgirls.

“Let me be clear. The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime,” Kerry said in a policy speech in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. “We will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and hold the perpetrators to justice. That is our responsibility and the world’s responsibility,” he said.

We need to live up to that responsibility.

U.S. journalists are just beginning to write about the situation. Some in the U.S. think that the lack of U.S. response is due to that fact that these girls are racially and culturally different from us. Others say the story isn’t being covered because journalists can’t travel to the area or get close enough to the action to provide video and photographs.

These girls will be sold to face lives where they are slaves and servants to men. For Americans, that seems impossible. Despite the differences in color and culture, we need to care. We need to protest and we need to act. These young girls are children of our world and their lives are worth saving.


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