Two of the 57 girls who managed to escape from the clutches of Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram in 2014, have recently received their high school diplomas.
Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu were abducted alongside over 250 of their classmates from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria three years ago. The girls were sleeping when they were invaded by gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar”. The Boko Haram terrorists then proceeded to burn down the school and forcefully cart off the students to trucks.
“We were all crying and screaming. They told us to keep quiet or they’re going to kill us. So they start to shoot their guns up on top of us, making us quiet. All of us were scared. We were just holding each other,” Bishara said in an interview for People Magazine.
The girls were given an ultimatum – they could run away and die or get on a truck and leave with the terrorists.
Eventually, Bishara and Pogu managed to jump off their moving truck under the cover of dust clouds, find each other in the bush and flag down a passing motorcyclist, who took them back to Chibok so they could return to their families.
Still terrified of being recaptured, the girls sought the aid of a human rights group in Virginia – the Jubilee Campaign – and moved to the United States to continue pursuing their education. Now the girls are recent graduates of Canyonville Christian Academy and both gave speeches at the ceremony. In the fall, they will be attending Southeastern University in Florida and have started a GoFundMe to help with their expenses. Pogu aspires to be a lawyer to give silenced individuals a voice, while Bishara wants to be a doctor so that she can heal and save lives.
Unfortunately, in the three years since the Boko Haram kidnapping, media coverage of the event has steadily decreased. Obviously, in the immediate wake of the incident, this story was at the forefront of international news outlets across the globe, prompting huge public outrage. A hashtag campaign titled #BringBackOurGirls was ignited, receiving support from prominent celebrities and activists such as former U.S First Lady Michelle Obama and Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai. But media outlets, particularly mainstream American media, now continue to provide little to no coverage on such events, along with other real human rights abuses such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, rape and abduction, which are still happening to women all over the world.
Although Boko Haram released 82 girls last month, a staggering 113 are still missing. These girls have been subjected to abduction, rape, forced marriage, indoctrination and possibly many other monstrosities that the world is falling in the trap of ignoring. In March 2017, Human Rights Watch Nigeria Senior Researcher Mausi Segun wrote that parents of the still-missing children had not heard anything from the government after a list of names was sent to them of all the unreleased girls.
Although the outcomes of such tragic incidents remain largely out of our control as distant masses, the least we can do is continue to raise awareness, respect and acknowledge the victims’ traumas and triumphs, and continue to discuss and speak out against such violations of women’s rights through the many media vehicles we possess.