What you can do for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

By now you probably know that more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted last month by Boko Haram terrorists and remain missing. Some of the girls have reportedly been forced to marry their captors while others have been sold into slavery for $12 each.

And you may have heard that the U.S. and other nations are getting involved to help in the search to find the kidnapped girls and their abductors. In fact, it’s been reported that U.S. Marines in Nigeria have already arrested two suspects.

It’s good that outsiders are getting involved, in light of Amnesty International’s recent discovery that Nigerian officials had received advance warnings that Boko Haram was planning to raid the girls’ boarding school but did nothing to prevent it. Those poor girls clearly need outside help.

And you can help, too, with just a few clicks:

  • From Amnesty International: Click here to urge the Nigerian authorities to do more to secure the safe release of the girls and to ensure that the perpetrators of this attack are brought to justice.

    This action will also urge them to “ensure that all children are able to access their right to education in safety, and to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of all Nigerians without discrimination.”

  • From Equality Now: Click here to contact key officials in Nigeria who should have the resources to find and return the girls to their families. (While this action may seem redundant to the one above, it is important to cover all bases.)

    This action will also call on the governments of Cameroon and Chad, where some of the girls were allegedly transported and sold, to find the girls and send them home.

  • From Human Rights First: Click here to urge U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to address the root causes of violence and extremism in Nigeria, as “economic desperation and human rights abuses committed by Nigerian security forces have fueled the rise of Boko Haram.”

    Human Rights First appreciates that the U.S. government is sending military, intelligence, and law enforcement advisors to Nigeria to support the effort to rescue the girls. But the organization believes that the Pentagon should also “partner with State and USAID to support anti-corruption, rule of law, and police reforms. It should also ensure that the United States is not allying with people in the Nigerian security services who are complicit in the victimization of the kidnapped girls or other civilians.”

Petitions really do work, if enough people sign on. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

So please help!

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail: mary@maryshawonline.com.

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