Unlike the families of those lost in the local governments of Bama and Baga in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, in the small town of Chibok Nigeria, endless cries can be heard in different homes, where inconsolable mothers speechless fathers, alongside friend’s cousins and brothers are all but teary eyed over the fate of 234 girls abducted without a trace by the deadly Islamist group Boko Haram.
Although several threads of rumours have been carried by residents of Chibok as to the whereabouts of the missing girls, in over two weeks there has remained no coherent explanation by the security forces or the government since the abduction of these girls. If anything, an air of insensitivity surrounds the activities of the government.
The questions which lie hidden in the hearts of the mothers of these children are self-evident. Are they alive? Are they dead? Are they being fed? Are they being violated? Will we ever see them again? If the rumours are true, rumours that indicate that the girls have been ferried out of the country through Cameroonian boarders and sold to Islamists for as low as N2,000 then perhaps some of these fears may have already come to pass.
In Nigeria, violence against little girls has perhaps been often neglected and recognised as the norm. Acts such as beatings by parents, little children hawking to sustain their families, child beggars, forced marriages and even female genital mutilation have remained of little concern to the lawmakers. The Chibok incidence however has shown a turn of events. Some of the families affected by the event have gone as far as organising search parties and raising funds in a search campaign for their girls.
Among the worries largely to be encountered by the government is that even if these girls are found and found alive, unlike Western countries were preventing child abuse even from the parents of these children is considered a high priority and detailed laws and policies exist to address this issue this isn’t so in countries across the borders of Northern Nigeria. The laws against such practices (even if any exist) are weak and fragile and clearly hold no water to the perpetrators of these violent acts. Child bride though a recent debate in the Nigerian political arena is all but absent in its neighbouring countries and countries like Niger, Chad and Central African Republic hold staggering records.
Although Worldwide, acts of terror have left countries devastated almost beyond economic and social revival. In CAR, a bloody war rages on between religious factions and those involved have been left not only physical abused but also psychologically scarred. Yet, none of these violent acts has been a concentrated act upon little children.
None has been a targeted effort against innocent and defenceless girls. One thing which may be deduced from this act is that perhaps the Boko Haram group is growing short of funding and the kidnap for sale option has become a recent means of sustainance.
For the crying mothers of Chibok, their plight is all the same. Worse than having your child kidnapped, is the knowledge that they may be lost forever and there is nothing that can be done.