CHIBOK, Nigeria—On May 8, Malala Yousafzai condemned the actions of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, and added her voice to the #BringBackOurGirls movement, addressing the kidnapping of approximately 276 Nigerian schoolgirls. Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who made a noteworthy recovery after being shot by members of the Taliban, has continued to be an advocate for women’s education.
“Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram prey on girls because they fear them,” Yousafzai said in an interview with CNN. She added that women are targeted by those who fear a society in which women are empowered.The name Boko Haram translates to “Western Education is Forbidden,” and its members specifically oppose education for girls.
“The girls in Nigeria are my sisters,” Yousafzai added, “and it’s my responsibility that I speak up for my sisters.”
The Malala Fund is launching a campaign to aid Nigerian girls in their quest to receive an education. Yousafzai has also released a photo on social media in which she is holding a sign reading #BringBackOurGirls. She is not the only one joining the social media movement. On Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama joined the twitter movement as the President prepared to deploy a team of military, law enforcement and hostage negotiators to Nigeria in order to aid the recovery effort, with the approval of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton criticized the actions of the Nigerian government in an interview with CNN on May 7. In the interview, Clinton stated that the kidnapping of the girls was “abominable,” “criminal,” “an act of terrorism” and that it “merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.” Clinton has also joined in the social media campaign, tweeting a message with the globally trending hashtag #BringBackOurGirls this past Sunday.
Alongside the Nigerian government, the Nigerian military has also been criticized for failing to act. When family members, searching for their missing children, had discovered their proximity to the Boko Haram camp, the family members returned to Chibok and begged the soldiers to join the search. The soldiers refused.
The Chibok Government Girls Secondary School, where the missing girls attended, had closed its doors in response to increasingly deadly attacks by the terrorist group. However, the school has reopened to allow students in their final year to take exams. On May 6, eight more girls were kidnapped from another village in the region.
It is unclear if the group plans to sell these girls as slaves, as they have planned to do with the schoolgirls kidnapped previously. Reports have already begun to circulate that some of the girls have been taken to Chad and Cameroon to be sold as brides to members of Boko Haram for $2,000 Nigerian naira, or $12. Other girls have been reportedly trafficked as sex slaves across Nigeria’s borders.