The Lessons of The Chibok Kidnapping, Three Years Later

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Media Outlet: New Yorker

Alexis Okeowo wrote for the New Yorker for the three year anniversary of the Chibok girls kidnapping:

Three years ago this week, more than three hundred teen-age girls were at a boarding school in a farming hamlet called Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria, tired and exhilarated after a long day of final exams. It was April 14th, a Monday, and there would be more tests that week, and so many girls were already asleep when, at around 10 p.m., hundreds of militants from the extremist group Boko Haram showed up to take them away from their papers, their books, their beds. In the weeks that followed, only a few dozen girls would manage to escape from the group’s camps in the tangles of the Sambisa Forest; the military was unable to rescue the others. As the years stretched on, the parents of the missing girls heard little news of their daughters, and had only horrific reports of sex slavery to contemplate. But, last October, Boko Haram released twenty-one of the kidnapped schoolgirls in a negotiated deal with the Nigerian government, which Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross helped mediate. (Three other students also escaped or were rescued last year.) Rumors persist that Nigeria paid a ransom, or released Boko Haram leaders, in exchange for the girls, but the government denies the claims.

Author:

Alexis Okeowo was a Class of 2016 & 2017 New America Fellow. She is the author of A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa and a staff writer for the New Yorker.