9 May 2014 - On 14 April, many girls - more than 200 according to different sources - were abducted at gunpoint from their secondary school during a violent raid by Boko Haram in the village of Chibok, Borno State, in the northeast of Nigeria. On 6 May, further abductions were reported in other villages, also perpetrated by Boko Haram.
United Nations and African human rights experts on Thursday called on the Boko Haram armed group to immediately release the abducted girls and urged the Nigerian Government to take all necessary measures to ensure their safe return and to hold the perpetrators accountable. “Ensuring the return of the girls and holding perpetrators accountable will contribute to ending impunity. It will also send a strong message that Nigeria places paramount importance on the protection of girls,” they said.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat Maalla M’jid, condemned the outrageous public admission made in a video by the Boko Haram leader, assuming responsibility for the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls and claiming that he will sell them in the market and marry them off. "The sale of children, including for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced marriage and sexual slavery constitutes an intolerable crime, and is prohibited by international law,” she said.
The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, noted that forced early marriages result in servile marriages in which other forms of slavery such as domestic servitude and sexual slavery take place. “Enslavement, including sexual slavery, can constitute crimes against humanity,” Ms. Shahinian warned. “The Nigerian authorities hold primary responsibility to prevent these crimes and to conduct investigations when such crimes occur.”
“Indifference or inaction is a form of encouragement or de facto license to non-State actors to commit horrendous acts of violence with impunity,” stressed the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo. “Nigeria should also prevent and combat the possible trafficking of these girls that could result from their abduction,” the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Ngozi Ezeilo underscored. The Country Rapporteur for Nigeria added that this deplorable matter is currently being considered by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a view to determining a strategic intervention.
In a unified call to action, the international and regional experts called on Boko Haram to stop these abhorrent crimes, and urged Nigeria to strengthen efforts consistent with human rights to protect its people. Civil society has also risen with outrage at the kidnappings and across the world people have launched a social media campaign under the hashtag: #BringBackOurGirls. The hashtag, which began trending in Nigeria, has spread across the world and has been picked up by people such as the First Lady Michelle Obama. Everyday people, political figures and celebrities are all lending their voice to the call: “bring back our girls!”
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