Nigerian Kidnappings: Where’s the U.S.?

A provocative blog post at Ms. Magazine this week addresses some tough questions around the abduction and sexual enslavement of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls. Why hasn’t there been more meaningful coverage in the U.S. press? Does it have to do with attitudes in our own country regarding our protection of reproductive rights and how we punish rape? 

Writer Andy Kopsa takes issue with the media’s acceptance of the term “forced marriage” for the fate that faces the kidnapped girls. She points out that despite its technical correctness, what these girls are actually facing is “a life of non-stop rape.” 

In her post, Kopsa presses hard—asking why we do not acknowledge this “full-scale international war on women.” 

And where is the U.S. in all of this? Where can we be? We have ceded the moral high ground in almost all of our dealings with the international community. Whether as Sarah Palin so foot-in-mouthedly said water boarding is our way of baptizin’ terrorists or that grumpy old white men in statehouses and the U.S. Capitol control our uteruses and our reproductive lives. Maybe it is because we don’t recognize women’s suffering in poverty—we can’t even push through minimum wage bills let alone pay women equally. Maybe it is because as a nation we haven’t solidified against the crisis of rape and domestic violence in our own country. Maybe because we live in a country where a man can get a one-month jail sentence for raping a girl.

The Nigerian schoolgirls who do not escape will suffer atrocities we hardly know how to discuss: sexual servitude, rape, abuse, violence, brainwashing, childhood pregnancy, death. Unfortunately we know this because it has happened before. Kopsa offers examples of the mass abductions in Uganda, the armies of kidnapped children throughout Africa, Cambodia, and elsewhere, as well as the ongoing crisis of rape culture in India.  

Her post is a rant, but for communities of people in this country invested in the human and reproductive rights of women, it is also a passionate call to action.