By Mariana Pereira

The issue of human trafficking is often ignored, and not given appropriate importance. Sex trafficking is a violation of human rights according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is considered a modern form of slavery. According to the United States’ Annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), the Muslim-majority countries that rank lowest in terms of how they tackle trafficking are Iran, Mauritania, and Kuwait. [1] In some cases, young women are kidnapped and even sold on the black market by their own family members. But the vast majority of victims are led to believe they will have a chance for a better future and an opportunity to escape poverty, unemployment, unequal access to education, and other forms of common gender discrimination.

Unfortunately, these women soon realize they were caught in a scheme. They are forced into prostitution, where escaping is nearly impossible and girls who attempt to do so can be drugged, tortured and imprisoned. Returning to their community would also be an embarrassing process, as many Muslim communities expect women to uphold their family honor, and any sexual activity could be considered an honor crime. Victims are often turned away once they get home or refuse to report the crime, for fear of this social stigma.

An ongoing case that has recently come to the world’s attention began on April 14th, when 276 female students from Nigeria were kidnapped by the extremist group Boko Haram, and are currently at risk of being sold as wives. The reasoning behind Boko Haram’s mass kidnapping is their belief in the immorality of western education. In a video obtained by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the group’s military leader Abubakar Shekau states that girls should get married, instead of going to school.

Countries have joined forces in an effort to locate the victims. Officials from both the United States and the United Kingdom are currently in the capital of Abuja, and the U.S. is providing aerial surveillance planes and sharing commercial satellite images with Nigeria. China, France and Israel are also helping in the search and intervening in what Secretary of State John Kerry described as “a massive human trafficking moment and grotesque.” [2]

It is unfortunate that incidents like this are still happening today. Nonprofit organizations such as Girl Rising are working hard to increase awareness and to publicize ways for people to help and become educated in the topic. The social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls has also been effective in spreading the word about the current situation. This Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram movement allows people to share their opinions and read what social media users from across the globe have to say about the mass kidnapping, that will hopefully soon come to an end.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of American Islamic Congress or any employee thereof.


1. U.S. State Dept. Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009

2. Nicholas Kristof, “Bring Back Our Girls,” The New York Times, May 3, 2014