There are a lot of dangerous jobs in this world, but I think the most dangerous of all right now is being a Nigerian schoolgirl. Last month, almost 300 schoolgirls, aged 16-18, were kidnapped from their boarding school in Borno, Nigeria, by the criminal cult Boko Haram. Some 223 girls are still held or have been sold. Read that again — these girls have been sold as slaves. And the Nigerian government has had the temerity to detain a woman who organized protests against the government’s mishandling of the case. And as of yesterday morning, eight more may have been kidnapped.
Abubakar Shekau claims to be responsible for the abduction, and weapons-grade moron that he is, he has produced a 57-minute video blathering on about it all. Some of the gems of idiocy he proffered include: “Women are slaves. I want to reassure my Muslim brothers that Allah says slaves are permitted in Islam.” He also confessed and threatened, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. I will sell them off and marry them off, I will marry off a woman at the age of 12. I will marry off a girl at the age of 9.”
Islamic tradition holds that Muhammad the Prophet married Aisha when she was 6, but she remained in her parents’ home until she was 9, when he, aged 53, consummated the marriage. Thus, Shekau’s selection of the age 9 for marrying a girl off. Reports are that he has already sold some of the girls for the princely sum of $12 each.
Boko Haram, which means “Western Education is sinful,” does have some appeal. Young men in Africa without jobs are prime targets for recruitment. A weapon, a chance to fight and plunder — these are the promises of every recruiting sergeant since Ramses II. Nigeria, with its mismanaged economy and poverty (the average Nigerian was richer before independence in 1960), is clearly fertile ground for the cult. Its ideology and outlook are almost identical to that of the Taliban, which you may recall was so regressive when it ruled Afghanistan that kite-flying and music were banned. In short, they’re assholes.
The Nigerian government promptly sprang into inaction, doing almost nothing to find the girls. President Goodluck Jonathan (yes, that’s his real name) was on a TV program over the weekend vowing to find and free the girls, but he was forced to admit he had no idea where they are.
Naturally, the girls’ families are upset, and some have protested the lousy response of the government. The police arrested a couple of them. Naomi Mutah Nyadar was charged with falsely claiming to be the mother of a missing girl after meeting with the president’s wife, Patience Jonathan (her name is hardly a good omen). Lawan Abana, whose two nieces are among the abductees, was also taken into custody, and she has been released.
She told the press, “They are claiming it is a hoax and that her daughter was not abducted. But when we say ‘bring back our daughters’ the campaign means it in the broader sense of ‘daughters of Nigeria’. They are so clueless.”
By selling the girls, Shekau and his kidnapper pals have violated international law. Article 7 of the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court says, among other things, that enslavement is considered “a crime against humanity.” They have violated a few other sections of that Article as well.
As I have written elsewhere, I believe that the death penalty in this case is appropriate. We have a taped, voluntary confession from the perpetrator. Since he is playing at being a soldier, summary execution in the field is OK by me.
And I personally am putting up reward money for Shekau. He’s wanted dead, not alive, and the price on his head is $11.99. He’s not worth as much as a schoolgirl.