HOUSTON-Two of Texas top female political leaders are calling for action strategy to bring the missing Nigerian girls home to their families.
These strong Black women leaders said the global community must be engaged, outraged, and must demand that the Nigerian government solve the problems associated with terrorism, human rights violations, and human trafficking.
“The video of these girls showing them in fear is a world tragedy and the United States,” said 18th District Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. “These girls need mercy and others in the world must rally to help them.”
As many as 300 teenaged girls were abducted from their school in Nigeria on April 15 by the Islamic militant terror organization Boko Haram.
The group is based in Nigeria and has carried out attacks on schools before.
Some girls managed to escape, but many are believed to have been transported into neighboring Cameroon or Chad.
The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has said he plans to sell the girls into marriages and sex slavery, but now says he is willing to exchange them for imprisoned militants.
First Lady Michelle Obama used the president’s weekly radio address this weekend to issue a plea for the girls’ safe return.
Protesters from across the United States and Nigeria have hit the streets to rally to draw attention to the plight of the girls. The rallies continue to grow as more people become aware of how serious the issue is.
However, Americans know very little about terrorism groups.
Boko Haram, a militant group designated by the State Department in November 2013 as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, has been conducting a reign of terror against innocent Nigerian women, children, and men since 2009, when it killed hundreds of persons during a raid of a police station in Maiduguri. In the last four years, Boko Haram has carried out more than 480 violent attacks against a broad array of targets: Christian and Muslim communities, government installations, schools, hospitals and medical facilities, aid workers, and journalists.
Since the beginning of 2013, more than 4,400 innocent persons have been killed and thousands more left homeless.
After visits to the Nigerian Embassy accompanied by others in Congress, Jackson Lee, who serves as Senior Member on the House Homeland Security Committee and the House Judiciary Committee and Co-Chair of the House Congressional Children’s Caucus, is even calling on President Barack Obama to look at ways to help prevent further harm from befalling the girls.
“I continue to be extremely concerned by the abduction last month of some 200 girls who were taken from their school hostel in Chibok, Borno State, in Nigeria,” she said. “My heart goes out to their families, and I am praying that they will soon be reunited with their children. I have asked President Obama and Secretary John Kerry to exercise every means available to assist in the safe and speedy recovery of the missing girls, including enlisting the aid of the African Union.”
State Representative Helen Giddings also has sounded outrage over the kidnapping stating the kidnappings make us witnesses to man’s inhumanity to man.
“The world is watching with horror, the story of the 200 plus young girls kidnapped in Nigeria in the middle of the night with the threat of being sold,” she said. “We are anxious for those responsible for this atrocity to be brought to justice.”
Helen Giddings represents District 109 which includes Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Lancaster, Wilmer, Hutchins, and portions of Glenn Heights and Oak Cliff.
She said the most important thing the world can do is show Boko Haram that these girls matter.
She said without a strong voice expressing objections from the entire world, it could send the wrong message about women and womens rights.
“There is an underlying global tragedy created by the devaluing of women, that if unaddressed puts women all over the world at risk for being enslaved,” she said.
“If these captors are not apprehended and punished, what message does that send to young girls in countries where the education of women is discouraged?”
Jackson Lee makes it clear that the action of the terrorist group violates international law.
Children’s rights are human rights, and these types of attacks, specifically targeting of schools, are strictly prohibited under international law and cannot be justified under any circumstances. Schools are places of refuge and safety, where children should be allowed to learn and grow without fearing harm coming to them.
“Girls and young women around the world absolutely must be allowed to go to school peacefully and free from intimidation, persecution and all other forms of discrimination,” she said.
Jackson Lee urged the Government of Nigeria to develop its own capacity to deploy specialized police and army units rapidly to rescue the schoolgirls and bring Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau to justice.
The units also can be deployed to prevent and combat sectarian violence in cities and around the country where there has been a history of sectarian violence.
This approach was used to successful effect by the Indonesia Government in 2004 to neutralize the Laskar Jihad terrorist organization.
Giddings added strong firm talk on the issue stating the case from a Black woman’s perspective.
“Our society can ill afford to tolerate gender based violence anywhere in the world, and that includes Africa,” Helen GIddings. “None of us can sit on the sidelines and be onlookers. Every one of us must do something – everyone can do something.”