Debrief Staff | Contributing Writer | Wednesday, 15 April 2015

We Pledged To #BringBackOurGirls, But A Year On, Where Are They?

We Pledged To #BringBackOurGirls, But A Year On, Where Are They?

The Debrief: We went to a protest at the Nigerian High Commission in London to speak to the women keeping the #bringbackourgirls campaign alive...

A year ago, news emerged – slowly, that is – that 276 teenage girls had been kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria. Eventually, the biggest question on everyone’s lips was whether anyone would ever give a crap about their fate at the hands of Boko Haram, an Islamist group opposed to women’s education. And people did give a crap – at least, they said they did. #BringBackOurGirls trended on social media. Everyone was chattering about it; celebrities like Cara Delevingne uploaded to Instagram photos of themselves holding up signs of the slogan, and soon influencers like Michelle Obama and, um, our very own Prime Minister, David Cameron, put their faces to the campaign. 

But one year after, now that Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the deaths of 5,500 Nigerians, what has actually happened to the Chibok schoolgirls?

Some have managed to escape, and will defy Boko Haram by returning to their studies. However, many still remain with the terrorist organisation. They have been forced to convert to Boko Haram's screwed up rendition of Islam, while there are fears they've been used as sex slaves and are now being trained to fight their fellow Nigerians as child soldiers for Boko Haram.

The Nigerian government has, up until now, been loathe to intervene - Boko Haram have proven themselves to be incredibly brutal and outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan didn't want to antagonise them further. However,  the new Nigerian president, Buhari, is said to be a bit more clued up with the north west of the country and so could have more negotiating power, but he admitted he cannot make any promises: ‘We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them. But I say to every parent, family member and friend of the children that my government will do everything in its power to bring them home.’

On the anniversary of the kidnap of the Chibok girls, there was a protest at Nigeria’s High Commission in London and we went along to speak to some of the women who’re still campaigning, still fighting to #BringBackOurGirls and have a few words for the Nigerian government, and our own…

Abi Ayorinde 25, London

We Pledged To #BringBackOurGirls, But A Year On, Where Are They?

What does our government need to do to recognise the rights of women around the world?

They need to unite with the government in Nigeria. If [the kidnap] is allowed to continue then [Boko Haram] will probably do it again. It’s really important that we make a stand and show that we haven’t forgotten our girls.

What are your hopes for the future of young Nigerian women?

We don’t want children to be fearful of going to school. We want to promote a safe education environment where children can go to school and learn.

Titi Lola Bello, 37, Founder of Path To Possibilities, Hertfordshire

What does our government need to do to recognise the rights of women around the world?

They need to rescue the girls in captivity. I think that will send a loud and clear message that the government values the lives of young girls. They need to prioritise the education of girls, which is very much tied to development of Nigeria.

What are your hopes for the future of young Nigerian women?

I hope they return the Nigerian girls who are missing, and I hope that the Nigerian government prioritises safety in school or Nigerian girls and boys.

Igiletu Musa, 27, London

We Pledged To #BringBackOurGirls, But A Year On, Where Are They?

What does our government need to do to recognise the rights of women around the world?

As women, we have a lot of power and influence and I think the government should support and encourage us more. Bringing these girls back would help their voices to be heard and make the female race have more influence.

What are your hopes for the future of young Nigerian women?

I hope that one day they’ll be able to go to school with no fear, and go on to higher education. There should be a system where if anything goes wrong they can go and report it.

Francesca Temitope Danmole, 27, Barking

What does our government need to do to recognise the rights of women around the world?

I think that the UK government is doing a lot more than others. The Nigerian government has a long way to go. They are meant to be one of the mightiest nations in Africa and still don’t have women in the highest seats of representation.

What are your hopes for the future of young Nigerian women?

That they will rise above the confinement of what society says they are. This conversation is not taking the public stage. I hope that in the future, those things are institutionalised in conversation.

Doorita Seeruttun, 26, Greenwich

We Pledged To #BringBackOurGirls, But A Year On, Where Are They?

What does our government need to do to recognise the rights of women around the world?

Education is a must and literacy is fundamental. Once you educate women, they are able to make decisions for themselves, know their rights and stand up for themselves.

What are your hopes for the future of young Nigerian women?

With all the barbaric acts of terror around the world, in regards to children’s right to education, there has to be strict rules so that children know they are in a place that is secure.

Catherine Labinjo, 28, East Midlands

We Pledged To #BringBackOurGirls, But A Year On, Where Are They?

What does our government need to do to recognise the rights of women around the world?

We need to be the spearhead. We’re being told that we’re this Western nation, this super power – we need to start acting like it. We should be the ones showing the rest of the word what is possible for our young people.

What are your hopes for the future of young Nigerian women?

There is still an opportunity for the army to go in and look for those girls, we have enough intelligence in Nigeria, in Africa and with the rest of the world support to do what we can to get those girls back.

You might also be interested in: 

Boko Haram Have Kidnapped More Than 25 Young Women In Nigeria 

Nigerian Schoolgirls Still Missing One Year On

Nigerian Troops *Finally* Planning To Launch Rescue Mission For Missing Schoolgirls 

 

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Tags: Nigeria