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Women Rally In Nigeria To Demand More Action For 200 Kidnapped Girls

Five hundred women marched in Abuja yesterday, more than two weeks after female students were kidnapped from their boarding school. More rallies are planned through Monday.

1. At midnight on April 15, 234 girls were kidnapped from their dorm room in Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria, by Islamic militant group Boko Haram. Most have been missing ever since.

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

The separatist terrorism group’s name means “Western education is forbidden.” Fewer than 50 girls managed to escape their kidnappers, one of whom told the New Yorker the girls at first weren’t far from their homes. But now they are believed to be deep in the forest, on the border with Cameroon, and the Nigerian military is struggling to locate them.

2. President Goodluck Jonathan has not addressed the kidnapping directly, and Nigerians are growing frustrated.

Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

 

“There are lots of stories, and we don’t know whom to believe,” one woman told the BBC. She was hoping to hear Jonathan speak out yesterday. He did not.

3. Yesterday 500 people gathered in Abuja, the capital, to march to the National Assembly and deliver written demands for action to senior leaders.

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

4. Meanwhile, some media report that the remaining girls have been moved toward Cameroon and married off to Islamic militants.

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

The Guardian reported that parents in Chibok had been told that the girls may have been married off. The claim has not been independently verified, but last year a Human Rights Watch investigation found that kidnapping girls and making them “wives” is a pattern for Boko Haram.

5. “It can happen to anybody anywhere.”

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

One woman told the BBC she feels women everywhere in Nigeria are vulnerable, and the kidnapping affects all Nigerians.

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

7. “This is close to home. There’s a connection by Nigerians that this can happen to me, this can be my sister, this can be my child.”

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

Alkasim Abdulkadir, who lives in the capital of Abuja, said a bus station bombing last month that killed more than 70 people in Abuja made terrorism feel more personal to Nigerians who don’t live in Boko Haram’s territory in the northeast.

8. “It’s time we speak up, or we’ll wake up one day and discover we don’t have a country.”

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

“The bomb blast was 20 minutes from the city center … At midnight, the kids were abducted. There’s a correlation of empathy and sympathy,” Abdulkadir told BuzzFeed by telephone. “People realized, this is real.”

9. As the day wore on, massive rainclouds gathered.

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

10. But the marchers would not be deterred.

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed
Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed
Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

13. The crowd reached the parliament building during the downpour. “Bring back our girls! Come outside!” some women called to their political leaders.

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

Senate President David Mark finally did face the rain and told the crowd that the government had heard its call to action, and that it will do everything possible to rescue the girls.

14. Nigerians say they will keep raising their voices.

Photograph by Tom Saater for BuzzFeed

Last week’s hasthtag #BringBackOurGirls has turned into a national movement. The rallies will continue over Nigeria through Monday, organizers said.

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