PORTLAND Three weeks ago, an Islamist group allegedly abducted 276 girls from a boarding school in Nigeria.
Now, a Portland nonprofit that has a team in Nigeria is speaking out about just how vulnerable young girls in countries like Nigeria are.
Background: US to help Nigeria find kidnapped girls
A militant group that killed hundreds of villagers earlier this week has taken credit for the kidnapping. They have been threatening to sell the girls into slavery for as little as $12 each.
Nigerian police also announced a $300,000 reward for information leading to the girls rescue. That is a huge amount of money for that country.
Mercy Corps, a nonprofit based in Portland, has had a team of about 40 people in Nigeria since 2012.
Nigeria is one of the most dangerous countries where the nonprofit has teams in place, a Mercy Corps spokeswoman said.
Girls all around the world are marginalized, more so than boys. You see this in education. Three-quarters of the population has never even been to school, said Lynn Renken with Mercy Corps. It underscores how vulnerable girls are.
Word about the kidnapping has spread virally on media attention. Mercy Corps officials said that has also helped spread awareness about their mission.
Education is a big focus for Mercy Corps. In Nigeria, there are more that 10 million kids who don't go to school; the most in the world.
The terrorist group Boku Haram believes women shouldn't be educated and claim that's why they're trying to sell these students into the slave trade.