WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) -- The women of the Senate banded together Tuesday to call on President Obama to take a stronger stance against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls last month.
Obama said Tuesday he had ordered a team of military, law enforcement and hostage negotiators to Nigeria to assist in the rescue effort of the girls who were kidnapped on April 14 by members of the Islamist group Boko Haram to be sold into sexual slavery.
The president called the kidnapping "heartbreaking" and "outrageous," but the 20 female senators said the U.S. needed to go further to condemn the terrorist group, whose name is usually translated as "Western education is forbidden" and whose attacks on schools and military installations in north-east Nigeria have left as many as 1,500 people dead this year alone, according to Amnesty International.
"We are outraged and horrified that these young women have been kidnapped, sold into slavery, had their education curtailed, and may even have been forced into marriages," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, who circulated a letter among their female colleagues.
"Education is a basic right for boys and girls who deserve an equal opportunity to pursue their education without fear of violence or retribution-no matter where they live," the letter said. "The Senate women stand united in condemning this reprehensible crime and are firm in our resolve that it will not be tolerated. We will not stand by and allow the Nigerian people to continue to be terrorized by Boko Haram and will continue to lead the effort to impose tough economic sanctions against this group."
The letter called on Obama to press for increased international sanctions against Boko Haram. And while the U.S. already classifies the group as a terrorist organization, the letter asked Obama to get it added to the United Nations Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions List for groups linked to al-Qaida.