The abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria by Islamist terror group Boko Haram has prompted pledges of international assistance and generated its own hashtag, but not until after the news media initially "dropped the ball" on the story, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof Friday on "CBS This Morning."
"It was crazy that we were devoting far more international resources to try to find a downed airliner than all these living girls," Kristof said, speaking of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
"The reason why it is on the global agenda right now is because Nigerian-led, grassroots activists' campaign caught global attention," Kristof said. "This issue got traction, and that forced the Nigerian government and president, Goodluck Jonathan, to actually devote some resources to this," noting that the Nigerian government initially lied about rescuing the captives.
Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, a Ugandan nun recently named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people, echoed Kristof's criticism of the media.
"They may give attention for one week or two weeks, and everything is forgotten," she said. "Yet, this has gone on and on for years. I'd say it happened in Uganda. Girls were destroyed. Women were destroyed. The media talked about it for a short time and it was forgotten. They say, 'Oh that's already something old.' And yet we are having these young mothers growing up with their children. They have a lot of pain."She described the Nigerian kidnapping as a "very great moment of pain."
"At this point, I think women should come together and shout to say, 'Violence must stop against women,'" said Nyirumbe, who helps Ugandan girls rebuild their lives after being abducted by Joseph Kony's rebel group. "Because this is something which is going on everywhere, right at this moment."
Everywhere, including in the U.S., Kristoff said.
"What I would really like to see though is that, in the same way that this helps girls abroad, we also need to bring back our girls right here in the U.S.," Kristof said. "Every year, the former head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates 100,000 [underage girls are] trafficked in the U.S. each year."And even with the situation appearing grim in Nigeria - U.S. intelligence believes that many of the girls are being held in small groups and may have been taken into neighboring countries, specifically Chad and Cameroon - there is still hope that the Americans can help, even in a limited capacity.
"The United States can't send troops on the ground through the Sambisa Forest to look for these girls," Kristof said. "I think that we can help with intelligence gathering, with signals intercepts to try to find these people, with overhead imagery. There is talk that some of the girls may have been moved to neighboring countries. If so, that may actually facilitate their recovery because the neighboring countries are a little more stable."