Black girls are missing, in Nigeria and at home. #BringBackOurGirls

Two weeks ago, a Nigerian high school was raided by armed militants from the terrifying Islamist group Boko Haram. These terrorists kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian girls—allegedly to sell them as brides for about $12 USD each. It’s a devastating case of human trafficking, but the girls’ distraught families say their pleas for governmental assistance in recovering their stolen daughters have fallen on deaf ears.

Nigerian families grieveAfter a failed attempt to rescue their daughters themselves, the families went public with their story. Disturbingly, the story did not gain the instant traction with the news media that it should have—another reminder of the fact that the media tends to overlook cases of abducted girls of color. Studies have found that white girls who are stolen in “stereotypical” abduction scenarios (such as that endured by Elizabeth Smart) receive disproportionate media attention: Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing every year in the U.S. alone, of which only about 115 are stereotypical. Yet black girls’ stories—and those of other girls of color—are rarely reported on.

But now, finally, in the case of Nigeria, the world is listening. The girls’ dead-of-night kidnapping has made mainstream international news, and public outcry is visible across social media channels. For example, a petition has gathered nearly 150,000 signatures calling upon the Nigerian government to stop their political posturing and bring these girls home.

Simultaneously, I can’t help but think of their case in the context of another situation, which I learned about this week at the White House Research Conference on Girls, held by the White House Council on Women and Girls. At a discussion during the conference, several attendees spoke to the need for increased national attention to the plight of black girls in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, where reports indicate that about 200 girls go missing every month—victims of human trafficking who are essentially sold, like the Nigerian high school girls, into sexual slavery. Yet this crisis in Atlanta is also flying below the national radar.

We have a moral obligation to defend all people’s basic human rights of life, liberty, and security. For any child to be trafficked, for anyone to be sold into slavery, is unfathomable—and yet it happens every day, all around the world, and yes, even at home in the U.S.

200 black girls disappeared from their high school in Nigeria two weeks ago; 200 black girls in Atlanta, Georgia, go missing every month. How many others are out there, victims of child trafficking, out of sight and out of mind? According to Unicef, the answer is devastatingly large: 5.5 million. 

This is a staggering problem, making it one we must tackle it together. Here are a few things you can do:

Do you have other suggestions or resources to recommend? Please share them in the comments below. Thank you.


Rebecca Hains is a media studies professor at Salem State University. Her book, The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, is now available for pre-order from Amazon.

If you liked this post, please follow Rebecca on Facebook and TwitterYou may also follow Rebecca’s blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at Thank you.

18 Comments on “Black girls are missing, in Nigeria and at home. #BringBackOurGirls

  1. If only a small fraction of this country’s attention could be shifted away from Justin Bieber and the Kardashians and onto the plight of MILLIONS of victims of sex trafficking, that would be a start.

  2. It’s funny what constitutes a real concern isn’t it, I should imagine that this blog will be one of the least commented on…and yet it is one of the more powerful. Why is this?

    Is it because it is too much for our fragile psyches to deal with?….Throughout the world their are many suffering, I do not care about gender, I am not that shallow, we are all sons & daughters in my eyes.

    I see anger, hatred. pain, sorrow & grief equally and it is not owned by any one gender or race,….no one has a monopoly. equally no one has a monopoly on love, peace, kindness, joy & compassion. Fear ultimately is the hidden killer for us all, fear to love, fear to act, fear to live & fear to forgive.

    When all is good in our own little microcosm in the world its amazing what constitutes a major concern for us. For others to live just another day whether through lack of food or war limits their scope but it also broadens their meaning of life. Often those who have suffered terribly hold little resentment having been given a distinctly clearer meaning of life…..I often wonder who is more fortunate?

    Peace be with you,

  3. At the very least the attention on these 234+ Nigerian girls will open our eyes to the scale of the problem of human trafficking. 200 girls a month in Atlanta, GA USA?! How is this not big news?! Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Pingback: #BringBackOurGirls | My So Called Glamorous Life

  5. All the reports I have seen on Atlanta sex trade is 400 12-14 yr old girls disappearing every month…thats almost 5000 a year!! Unbelievable that it goes on and we don’t hear about it. Actually the Atlanta problem is much more massive than the Nigerian problem. Wonder why the national talking heads dont talk about it?! An Irish man did portraits of girls murdered in Juarez…I was thinking a similar project might shed light on this terrible problem happening in one of my favorite towns two hours from where I live…and I am sure alot of those same girls sadly turn up here during Masters Week in Augusta GA.

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