#BringBackOurGirls

A dark night eclipsed by an even darker issue has engulfed the world. Bright, young women seeking knowledge and education for a better future had their dreams cut short in a matter of minutes. Heartfelt and emotional, an international unity has sparked a search for hope.  

Capturing the world, just as swiftly and violently as the April 14 abduction of nearly 300 Nigerian school girls, the world now cries out “Bring back our girls” in a vehement statement for justice. Celebrities alike and First Lady Michelle Obama have all shared the hashtag slogan causing both global support and great discussion over global involvement.

The schoolgirls, ranging from 16-18 years of age, were taken by Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group that literally translates to mean “Western education is sin.” The group rose up in 2002 out of corruption and weak militant Nigerian control, according to the Washington Post.

People attend a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, May 22, 2014. Scores of protesters chanting "Bring Back Our Girls" marched in the Nigerian capital Thursday as many schools across the country closed to protest the abductions of more than 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the government's failure to rescue them and the killings of scores of teachers by Islamic extremists in recent years. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
People attend a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, May 22, 2014. Scores of protesters chanting “Bring Back Our Girls” marched in the Nigerian capital Thursday as many schools across the country closed to protest the abductions of more than 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the government’s failure to rescue them and the killings of scores of teachers by Islamic extremists in recent years. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

In the dark night hours, the girls were  captured from their bunks in Chibok, a rural area in the state of Borno located in northeast Nigeria. The terror reigned as food and bunks burned, strangers clothed in military garb assembled the girls into trucks. The entire school was left in a shamble and the chaotic events turned nightmares to reality.

Thought to be taken into the nearby woods, family members reacted with frenzied attempts to form rescue groups, but were quickly persuaded to hold off by government officials as not to further endanger themselves or the girls.

Few escaped enslavement by the Boko Haram, managing to go free in the confusion of the night. The young women who ran for their lives, risking everything, knew escaping the tyrannous reign of Boko Haram was well worth the risk. “We would rather go than die,” one of the schoolgirls told CNN after the attack. Those who did manage to get away believed the others were close by in the remote area of Chibok in the Sambisa Forest.

Nigerian Government officials’ lackadaisical attitude of handling the horrific kidnappings swept across the world urging for action and international intervention. Debate sparked about military action and the unorganized communication from the Nigeria’s government, causing the Twitter nation to keep on trending #BringBackOurGirls in a resounding message of unity.

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According to CNN, small groups of civilians have formed and executed attacks on Boko Haram members, but this has done little to change the status of the kidnappings. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been assertive about his position of no negotiations with Boko Haram according to theguardian.com. The United States, Britain, France, China and Israel have offered to lend their support to Nigeria’s government in order to keep hope alive and bring home the missing girls.

On Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a video showing about 100 of the kidnapped girls, triggering both anger and heartbreak. He demanded a trade for the imprisoned Boko Haram members and claimed the girls to be new converts to Islam.

A USAToday.com article reiterated Shekau’s disturbing demands from the horrifying video when he said, “It is now four years or five years that you arrested our brethren and they are still in your prison…(The girls) are staying (with us). We won’t ever release them until our brethren are released.”

The chilling demeanor of Shekau enraged families, who were able to identify most of the girls, confirming that the footage was real and not simply propaganda.

The event has driven celebrities to use their fame to acknowledge and spread the #BringBackOurGirls campaign and lend support or prayers. From Reese Witherspoon, Whoopi Goldberg, Alicia Keys, Diddy, Anne Hathaway, Adam Schulman, Angelina Jolie, Hillary Clinton to countless others, encouragement spreads like wildfire across social media enlightening young minds to the atrocities of this sickening event.

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The United States has lent support with its intelligence resources in hopes the exact location and number of girls alive can be known in addition to other forms of military aid.  Unfortunately, the girls are still missing. Chibok remains a city on edge with its families fearing for their lives, fearing the return of the terrorists, and fearing the unknown fate of the 200+ school girls. The power of enlightened minds are in jeopardy as long as the girls remain detained. The malicious actions of intolerance and hate propels fear and misunderstanding.

Senator Barbara Boxer of California relayed an important message on the issue when she declared to ABC News, “The voices of the civilized world must rise up and be louder than the terrorists who are taking away basic human rights.”

For the women, who at least today, have lost their basic human rights: a right to a voice, to a chance for change, to their dreams of education, there must be action. There will be no peace until the women of Nigeria are lead safely home.

-Courtney Blackann

*May 2014