I am glad to be serving the state of Maryland on the Family Violence Council [embed]http://goccp.maryland.gov/victims/family-violence-council/membership/[/embed]
Although the actual number of girls kidnapped varies depending on what report one has listened to, the fact remains that college aged students who were in school to write their final exams were abducted in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. I find several uncanny similarities between this event and what is typically observed in situations of domestic violence. The girls, like victims of domestic violence, did nothing wrong. All they wanted was to get an education. They were in school, where they should have been safe. Sadly, just as many relationships turn out to be unsafe, the girls who had prepared themselves to write an exam, had to face horrors they could hardly have imagined.
Just like domestic violence victims, help comes slowly or not at all. Three weeks, and not only have the girls not been rescued, we are not any wiser about their return. Despite the apparent injustice and violation of their fundamental human rights, their abduction has not received enough attention, or adequate response. Just like domestic violence, their abduction seems to be a case of “their problem,” and thus not an issue of concern to many, who with the power of their voices, can draw attention to their plight. Sadly, we have heard that the girls are being raped repeatedly on a daily basis. Like domestic violence victims, they are being put at risk for diverse poor health outcomes including reproductive cohesion, sexually transmitted infections, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) How can this have nothing to do with society at large?
The Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram, in a video released over the internet has claimed responsibility for the abduction of the girls. And just like some abusers hide under the cloak of religion to terrorize their victims, a Boko Haram leader has proclaimed having the religious rights to stop the girls from getting an education, and to sell them off in marriage. Given the publicity of their abduction, I am at a loss for who would buy the girls, and worst still, buy them and keep them. Definitely, they are not objects that should be sold to the highest or lowest bidder, but in the event that they are being sold, why is nobody returning them to the Nigerian government, so that they can be reunited with their families?
Today, I was on CALL to end violence at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC. I joined other committed and concerned Nigerians and non-Nigerians to challenge the injustice of violence. We raised our voices to demand the return of our girls. I am glad that since that event ended, we have learned that the United States and the United Kingdom will be providing assistance to the Nigerian government in efforts to secure the release of our girls. They have a right to a future free of violence. Living in bondage should not be an option for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.