As outrage grows in Nigeria and across the world following the abduction of an estimated 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants, Walk Free, the world’s largest community of people fighting to end modern slavery, is mobilizing to put pressure on the Nigerian Government to use all resources at its disposal to find the girls and return them home.
More than 140,000 people have signed an online petition on WalkFree.org urging Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to act immediately on intelligence from credible local sources; work with Cameroon and Chad and nations offering assistance; and improve the protection of schools in northeastern Nigeria.
Sign the Walk Free petition to save these schoolgirls from forced marriage here: www.StudentsNotSlaves.com
“Outrage and frustration from communities across the world in response to these horrific kidnappings is only helpful if it helps move the rescue process forward,” said Debra Rosen, Movement Director at Walk Free. “That’s why Walk Free supporters have come together to push the Nigerian Government to act quickly. Every day the girls are held captive, the risk that they will fall victim to forced child marriage and a life of modern slavery increases.”
News reports indicating some girls have been sold to Islamist fighters for $12 each have heightened concerns that the kidnappings could lead to forced marriages. While Nigerian law bans marriage before the age of 18, almost 40 percent of girls are married before then and almost 20 percent are married before turning 15, according the UN Children’s Fund.
Following the kidnappings in April, the Nigerian Government received heavy criticism internationally and domestically for its slow response to the crisis. Subsequently, President Goodluck Jonathan said he would make finding the missing girls a priority, and has accepted help from Britain, the United States, Britain, France and Israel to bolster rescue efforts.
Over the last year, Walk Free has joined partner organizations campaigning to raise awareness of the prevalence forced child marriage in Nigeria, Yemen and Iraq.