Kimmona Kannigan

27 years old

Member of the World Youth Alliance & practising attorney

Two hundred and seventy six innocent school girls, a lethal militant group and a president who had the power to protect his country’s female youth…

This incident begs the question, who is the greater perpetrator? Boko Haram who unlawfully kidnapped over two hundred school girls or the country’s president who was alerted about the impending attack four hours prior? While I hold strong views about the sanctions that ought to be imposed on the militant group, I feel even more strongly about what can only be described as disinterest and apathy on the part of the Nigerian President who himself has an adult daughter.

The alleged motive behind the kidnapping is that Boko Haram, a militant group based in the North East of Nigeria and who seek to establish a “pure” Islamic State ruled by Sharia law deem the education of females to be of western ideology.

The statistics of a number of African countries indicate a high crime rate in respect of violent crimes perpetrated against women and children. To some extent this would explain the lack of initiative from various African countries in response to the Nigerian kidnapping with many countries only getting involved subsequent to Western intervention. Prior to the incident sparking international concern it can only be assumed that we as African’s had resigned ourselves to the fact that this was “just another incident”. The general apathy displayed by Africa is gravely concerning and almost makes us complicit in these crimes.

Disturbingly, this incident occurred just months before countries are due to meet its targets in terms of the Millennium Development Goals (“MDG’S”) a program that was implemented by the United Nations in 2000. Ironically, female empowerment appears to be quite substantial on the MDG agenda with the right to universal education being prioritised as an individual goal for all member states.

Failure to adequately deal with this situation by rescuing the victims and prosecuting the perpetrators may result in creating a dangerous impression that attacks against women and children will remain unsanctioned which in turn perpetuates the cycle of violence against women.

One victim who managed to escape painted a gruesome picture of her captors. It is no surprise that the kidnapped victims were and possibly continue to be subjected to the most sinister trauma at the hands of their kidnappers. Sadly, the likelihood of these young ladies being reintegrated into society and leading normal lives is greatly diminished.

While the world has turned its gaze on Nigeria and as the country crumbles beneath the weight of its failure, I challenge Africans to unite in our quest to BRING BACK OUR GIRLS and send a clear message of intolerance toward a continued oppression of women – especially the girl child – in Africa.