Angelina Jolie is speaking out to condemn the mass kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls three weeks ago, adding her voice to the worldwide outrage over the shocking crime.
“The kidnapping of these young Nigerian girls is an unthinkable cruelty,” the Oscar-winning mother of six said during a press conference in Paris Tuesday to promote Maleficent, according to Agence France-Presse. “Sadly, of course, there is real evil in the world. You watch the news and you see all of the people suffering and so much cruelty.”
Jolie’s comments come just one day after the leader of a Nigerian Islamic Group released a video taking responsibility for snatching the girls, with brazen plans to sell them as “slaves.”
“They are slaves and I will sell them because I have the market to sell them,” Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is sinful,” said in the video, while adding, “Girls, you should go and get married.”
According to reports, armed members of Boko Haram charged security guards in a school in a remote part of northeast Nigeria and forced as many as 276 girls out of their beds and into trucks that disappeared into the thick woods.
Some reports claim at least 53 girls escaped, but many still await rescue – or face a potentially chilling fate.
“[The girls] give their hands in marriage because they are our slaves,” Shekau proclaimed, according to the New York Times. “We would marry them out at the age of 9. We would marry them out at the age of 12.”
Jolie, 38, a longtime human rights activist and Special Envoy of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Anténio Guterres, left no room for doubt while speaking out about the ruthless act, calling the kidnapping “unthinkable cruelty and evil.”
Jolie is not the only celebrity publicly denouncing the crime. More than 20 stars have thrown their support behind a Change.org petition calling for worldwide attention to the kidnapping and imploring the Nigerian government to protect girls and women in schools throughout their country.
Nigerian schoolgirl Ify E., who is currently studying abroad in Germany, started the petition last week, and it has since garnered support from Queen Latifah, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Mia Farrow, Minnie Driver, Alyssa Milano and many others.
In addition, according to Time, the Obama administration has a plan to send a “coordination cell” to Abuja, Nigeria, to assist in locating the girls.
With news of Obama’s efforts comes word that an additional group of at least eight young girls in Nigeria have also been kidnapped. The United Nations Children’s Fund and a local official made the announcement on Tuesday, explaining that they were seized from their homes to prevent them from attending school.
• Reporting by PETER MIKELBANK