NIGERIA — The terrorist group Boko Haram abducted over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria in April 2014. Recently partnered with IS to assume a larger territory, this group claims the ancient Islamic belief that the abducted women are considered war prizes.
The terrorist group has stated that these schoolgirls would be treated as slaves and married off. A majority of these schoolgirls have not been recovered, as well as approximately 2,000 children that Amnesty International believes have been captured by Boko Haram.
Founded in 2002, Boko Haram is a terrorist group centered in Nigeria that focuses on opposing Western education. A loose translation of “Boko Haram” is “Western education is forbidden.” Because of the threat that Boko Haram imposes on education systems in this area, many Muslim families of lower economic status have opted to send their children to the Islamic school created by Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram. The failure of functional education in the area contributes to the effectiveness of Boko Haram and exacerbates the preexisting issue of poverty in the region.
Though the group is initially focused on the opposition of education, they have launched military operations to create an Islamic state in Nigeria and declare the areas they have controlled as their caliphate. There is constant conflict between the army and Boko Haram, which works to recapture the lands the terrorist group controls and to prevent them from spreading.
The interruption and danger they impose on children receiving a Western education continues to contribute to the cycle of poverty in Nigeria. This threat will only disappear if the local government in Nigeria is able to reduce poverty and create a functional education system. Boko Haram continues to reinforce their power over the region, attacking the school system and recruiting soldiers from those who are attempting to advance financially.
As much as seventy-five percent of the children used as child-soldiers for Boko Haram are girls. The number of child bombers in use has increased tenfold in the past year, causing communities to view children and girls in particular as threats. Upon returning from captivity, many women and children are met with discrimination and persecution from their families and surrounding communities. Boko Haram’s common use of children in attacks is devastating to the community’s ability to rebuild from the terrorist threat.
While the number of children involved in suicide bombings in Nigeria and Cameroon has increased, the frequency of general suicide attacks has also spiked greatly. From 32 suicide attacks in 2014, the frequency has increased to 151 in the past year.
These attacks have forced over 2.3 million people out of their homes since May, 2013. The local government is overwhelmed by the issue at hand, resulting in further poverty and failures of the local schools.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representative Frederica Wilson have repeatedly called further attention to the capture of the 200 Chibok girls in 2014. Representative Chris Smith has also recently called for additional assistance to Nigerian security forces, saying “We’re doing some. I would suggest we’re not doing enough.”
– Amanda Panella