Heartbroken families, whose young daughters were recently abducted from a boarding school, stormed the National Assembly in the Nigerian capital on Wednesday in a massive display of grief and anger over the government's failure to rescue the stolen girls.
"May God curse every one of those who has failed to free our girls," said Enoch Mark, whose daughter and two nieces were among the more than 200 girls between the ages of 12 and 17 abducted on April 14 in a nighttime raid in the Chibok area of the north-eastern state of Borno.
Borno officials estimate that 129 girls were kidnapped and 52 have since escaped, while local people—including the school's principle—say that 234 girls were taken and 187 remain missing.
Reports allege that the girls were taken by gunmen with the Islamist group Boko Haram—who for five years have been waging a violent uprising across northern and central Nigeria—and, according to a local Chibok elder, sold as "wives" abroad.
Demanding the government step up their search for the girls, protesters converged at Eagle Square in Nigeria's capital city Abuja and from there marched to the National Assembly to submit a protest letter. Organized by the group Women for Peace and Justice, the protest was called to demand that more resources be committed to rescuing the girls.
According to the news site Sahara Reporters:
Senators Barnabas Gemade and Helen Esuene received the protesters, telling them that the Senate was considering a motion in relation to the abducted girls. The two senators assured that the content of the Senate’s resolution would be communicated to the women later today. The senators appealed to the protesters to calm down and show restraint, pledging that everything would be done to secure the release of the girls in due course.
Some of the protesting women, who were all dressed in black, seemed unimpressed by the senators’ tepid words. A number of the women betrayed their emotion and wept profusely, a few of them rolling on the ground.
Joining the outcry, supporters worldwide have taken to Twitter under the hashtag "#BringBackOurGirls" to share their sympathy and frustration over the lack of response to the mass abduction.
— Imad Mesdoua (@ImadMesdoua) April 30, 2014
A petition has also been launched calling for the situation to be granted "the right level of coverage in international media and be addressed as a priority issue by the UNICEF, UNWomen and other international organization that can put significant pressure on the Nigerian Government to intensify it's search efforts."