Kidnapped Nigerian girls' plight inspires artist

by
07 November 2014

by a staff reporter

MARY MIHELIC

Getting away: Running Girl Four, part of mary Mihelic's mixed media on paper series of images. Additional images in the slideshow www.marymihelicartist.com

Getting away: Running Girl Four, part of mary Mihelic's mixed media on paper series of images. Additional images in the slideshow www.marymihel...

AN ARTIST in the United States has created a series of paintings of the 53 girls who evaded capture when the Islamic militant group Boko Haram stormed into their school in Nigeria earlier this year.

More than 220 of their classmates were kidnapped, but the 53 girls escaped and hid in the grounds of the school (News, 11 July).

The artist Mary Mihelic, from New York, said that she had been inspired by the girls' courage.

"They got away while all their classmates who did not run were kidnapped. The art is about that split-second decision when a person decides to run. It is as much about the experience of being human and feeling compassion for these girls as it is about feminism."

She has not yet finished her 53 paintings, and still hopes that the kidnapped girls will be released before the series is complete.

She said: "My 53 artworks bring into play many of the issues that surround the topics, including global feminism, religious freedom, and education for women. They are a way to remind everyone that we just can't give up on these kidnapped girls, married or not."

Last weekend, a man claiming to be the leader of Boko Haram said in a video that the girls had been married off to militants and had converted from Christianity to Islam. The man called himself Abubakar Shekau - the man whom Nigeria's military said they had killed a year ago. Nigeria's military also said last month that it had agreed a ceasefire with the group, and that the schoolgirls would be released, after a month of negotiations in Saudi Arabia.

The campaign to release the girls became global earlier this year, after the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls trended on Twitter, in response to criticism from the girls' families over the lack of action by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Last month, it was reported that four girls from the original group had escaped and walked for three weeks to get home. They said that they had been held in neighbouring Cameroon, and raped daily.

Boko Haram has intensified its attacks in in recent months.

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