This Is Not OK: Paying Attention to Nigeria’s Kidnapped Girls

Today is the two-month anniversary of the disappearance of  Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared on March 7 about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur and heading to Bejing. The plane, with its 241 passengers, has been missing ever since. Just this morning, I got a push notification from CNN on my cell phone letting me know that there would be a press conference today to discuss the most recent developments in the case of the missing plane.

It’s funny how the world’s attention works. By now, there is no possibility that the passengers of Flight 370 are still alive, but we are obsessed with mysteries. What happened to the plane? Why did it change course? Where is it now? We want to know.

Another story of missing people has also been getting traction in the world, thanks largely to social media sites that have kept it alive in the absence of 24/7 coverage on CNN. Three weeks ago, on April 15, about 300 girls were abducted from the dormitory in their school in Northern Nigeria. The girls were taken by a terrorist group claiming to have something to do with Islam. The leader of that group has stated publically that he intends to sell the girls as wives and sex slaves in Nigeria and neighboring countries. As many as 276 of the girls remain in the hands of these human traffickers, who have reportedly also abducted other young women from their homes.

At the bottom of this post, I have typed in the names of 177 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped and confirmed to be still missing. I used this list as the basis for the names. It is an embarrassingly small gesture, born out of frustration, compassion, guilt, horror, and a feeling of utter helplessness about a tragedy unfolding thousands of miles away in a country that I am unforgivably ignorant about. Like so many people around the world, I want to do something, and there is nothing I can do.

Except pay attention. Really pay attention. And unlike the passengers of Flight 370, or even Clive Bundy’s cows, these young women are in a situation where the attention of the world might really matter. It is not OK that we live in a world where teenage girls are kidnapped from their schools and sold into sexual slavery in the name of religion. This is a situation that really matters, and we owe it to these girls–and to all girls–to pay attention.


Blesing Abana
Yayi Abana
Deborah Abari
Deborah Abbas
Hauwa Abdu
Safiya Abdu
Sieker Abdul
Awa Abge
Deborah Abge
Kummi Aboku
Hamsatu Abubakar
Mairama Abubakar
Hasana Adamu
Naomi Adamu
Arnina Ali
Asabe Ali
Mary Ali
Comfort Amos
Deborah Amos
Mary Amos
Rifkatu Amos
Ruth Amos
Saraya Amos
Esther Ayuba
Saratu Ayuba
Hauwa Balti
Awa Bitrus
Christina Bitrus
Godiya Bitrus
Na’omi Bitrus
Rahila Bitrus
Ruth Bitrus
Nguba Buba
Maryamu Bulama
Abigail Bukar
Yana Bukar
Gloria Dama
Maifa Dama
Muwu Daniel
Talata Daniel
Filo Dauda
Mary Dauda
Saratu Dauda
Patiant Dzakwa
Saratu Emmanuel
Lydia Emmar
Monica Enoch
Aisha Ezekiel
Rifkatu Galang
Halima Gamba
Aishatu Grema
Comfort Habila
Liyatu Habitu
Febi Haruna
Tabitha Hyelampa
Ladi Ibrahim
Rahap Ibrahim
Hanatu Ishaku
Ruth Ishaku
Zara Ishaku
Hauwa Ishaya
Hauwa Isuwa
Awa Hames
Deborah Jafaru
Ladi Joel
Esther John
Jummai John
Laraba JOhn
Rhoda John
Eii Joseph
Esther Joshua
Hauwa Joseph
Rebeca Joseph
Ruth Joshua
Yana Jushua
Rebeca Kabu
Ruth Kollo
Hauwa Kwakwi
Rikiya Kwamtah
Kauna Lalai
Aisha Lawan
Faita Lawan
Maryamu Lawan
Ruth Lawan
Kauna Luka
Ma’omi Luka
Rebecca Luka
Gloria Mainta
Kabu Malla
rebecca Mallum
Laraba Maman
Asabe Manu
Kwadugu Manu
Esther Markus
Saratu Marcus
Aishatu Musa
Awagana Musa
Hanatu Musa
Hauwa Musa
Helen Musa
Maryamu Musa
Palmata Musa
Rejoice Musa
Saraya Musa
Hauwa Mutah
Kame Mutah
Lugwa Mutah
Ruth Ngladar
Hauwa Nkeki
Rachael Nkeki
Hanatu Nuhu
Pindar Nuhu
Grace Paul
Jummai Paul
Laraba Paul
Ladi Paul
Mary Paul
Saraya Paul
Deborah Peter
Hauwa Peter
Rhoda Peter
Naomi Philimon
Mwa Malam Pogu
salomi Pogu
Tabitha Pogu
Yana Pogu
Luggwa Samuel
Saraya Samuel
Serah Samuel
Luggwa Sanda
Rejoice Sanki
Margaret Shettima
Yanke Shittima
Tabitha Silas
Kwanta Simon
Lydia Simon
Deborah Soloman
Rifkatu Soloman
Hana Stephen
Mary Sule
Saraya Mal Stover
Fatima Tabji
Hauwa Takai
Hauwa Tella
Solomi Titus
Esther Usman
Maimuna Usman
Mary Usman
Ladi Wadai
Muli Waligam
Margret Watsai
Marayamu Wavi
Hauwa Wule
Glory Yaga
Mairama Yahaya
Christy Yahi
Anthonia Yahonna
Deborah Yahonna
Laraba Yohonna
Mary Yohanna
Na’omi Yahonna
Rahilla Yohanna
Dorcus Yakubu
Hadiza Yakubu
Juliana Yakubu
Mary Yakubu
Maryamu Yakubu
Rifkatu Yakubu
Suzana Yakabu
Jinkai Yakabu
Jinkai Yama
Margaret Yama
Saraya Yama
Yana Yidau
Hauwa Yirma
Naomi Zakaria