Last weekend, 11 Nigerian girls were kidnapped in two remote villages in northeastern Nigeria, adding to the nearly 300 girls who are currently missing in that part of the country.
Just last month, 230 Nigerian Christian school girls were kidnapped by the Islamist group, Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden.” This group is also responsible for many other recent kidnappings, church bombings and other terrorist attacks throughout the country. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s attempt to retrieve the girls has been entirely unsuccessful and has undermined his standing with the people.
According to Manuel Fontaine — UNICEF regional director for west and central Africa — Boko Haram has been terrorizing villages in northeastern Nigeria for years, while nothing has been done to stop them. Throughout last week, large groups of Nigerian protesters and other marchers worldwide have urged the government to do more to rescue the kidnapped children.
The leader of the Islamist terrorist group behind the kidnapping — Abubakar Shekau — has taken responsibility. He recently released a video in which he promised to sell the girls as slaves in the “marketplace.” Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters: “We warn the perpetrators that there is an absolute prohibition against slavery and sexual slavery in international law.”
Although I applaud the words of Mrs. Pillay, I’m angered over the lack of action taken against Mr. Shekau by the Nigerian government and the United States. More must be done to put an end to Mr. Shekau’s terrorist attacks and to rescue these innocent Christian schoolgirls.
David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, an international Christian organization that advocates for persecuted Christians around the globe, shares the same sentiment. He told Fox News: “Instability is growing because of the failure of western governments, including the U.S. government, to forcefully identify the clear and present danger Boko Haram is to a peaceful Nigeria.”
Thankfully, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution on Tuesday calling for the safe return of the kidnapped Nigerian girls. Furthermore, President Obama has assured the Nigerian people that the U.S. is going “to do everything we can to recover these young ladies.”
At the White House press conference Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the U.S. is sending a team of military and law enforcement personnel skilled in intelligence, investigations, hostage negotiating, information sharing and victim assistance to aid in the rescue attempt.
But time is running out to save these girls, who may soon become human trafficking victims if the rescue operation proves unsuccessful.
Human trafficking continues to be a major issue not only in Africa, but in the rest of the world as well. According to UNICEF estimates, more than 1.2 million children worldwide become human trafficking victims every year. Abducted from their families and communities, millions of children are sold as sex slaves in foreign countries as human trafficking operation networks include “immigration, customs, police, army and even foreign embassies.” Often, these children contract various diseases, such as AIDS, and go without food for days. Many die or are killed at a very young age.
Human trafficking isn’t limited to nations outside the U.S. — it happens right here in America. Human trafficking has been uncovered in multiple venues including “residential brothels, hostess clubs, online escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution” all across the country. In fact, every year the Super Bowl becomes the single largest occurrence of human trafficking in the U.S.
The abomination that is human trafficking must end. Terrorist groups, like Boko Haram in Nigeria, must be brought to justice. The Nigerian government and the U.S. have clearly not done enough to curtail the amount of kidnappings and human trafficking conducted in Nigeria or in America.
The White House’s decision to aid the Nigerian government in its rescue operation is an encouraging first step to fight human trafficking. Let’s pray we’re not too late.
• Armstrong Williams is sole owner/manager of Howard Stirk Holdings and executive editor of American Current See Online Magazine.