Writing (from the left — as you will realize if you read the whole article) in the Guardian, Nick Cohen takes on the horror of what is going on in Nigeria:
Terrorists from a religious cult so reactionary you don’t have to stretch the language too far to describe it as fascistic attack a school. The assault on a civilian target, filled with non-combatant children, has a grotesque logic behind it. They call themselves “Boko Haram”, which translates as “western education is forbidden”. The sect regards learning as oppression. They will stop all teaching that conflicts with a holy book from the 7th century and accounts of doubtful provenance on the life and sayings of their prophet written hundreds of years after he died.
A desire for sexual supremacy accompanies their loathing of knowledge. They take 220 schoolgirls as slaves and force them to convert to their version of Islam. They either rape them or sell them on for £10 or so to new masters. The girls are the victims of slavery, child abuse and forced marriage. Their captors are by extension slavers and rapists….
As you can see, English does not lack plain words to describe the foulness of the crimes in Nigeria, and no doubt they would be used in the highly improbable event of western soldiers seizing and selling women. Yet read parts of the press and you enter a world of euphemism. They have not been enslaved but “abducted” or “kidnapped”, as if they will be released unharmed when the parties have negotiated a mutually acceptable ransom. Writers are typing with one eye over their shoulder: watching their backs to make sure that no one can accuse them of “demonising the other”.
Fears for the fate of more than 200 Nigerian girls turned even more nightmarish Monday when the leader of the Islamist militant group that kidnapped them announced plans to sell them.”I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language.
But fear not, Nigeria has taken some action.
Nigerian authorities have arrested one of the leaders of a protest calling on them to do more to find more than 200 girls abducted by Islamist rebels, a source in the presidency and another organiser of the protest have said. Boko Haram insurgents, who want to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, stormed a secondary school in the village of Chibok in the north-east of the country on 14 April and took the girls away in lorries. A source in the presidency said Naomi Mutah Nyadar had been detained over allegations of falsely claiming to be the mother of one of the missing girls. Nyadar was arrested on Sunday after a meeting she and other campaigners had held with President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, Patience, concerning the girls. She was taken to Asokoro police station, near the presidential villa, said fellow protester Lawan Abana, whose two nieces are among the abductees . . .
Abana denied Nyadar had made any such claim. “They are claiming it is a hoax and that her daughter was not abducted. But when we say ‘bring back our daughters’ the campaign means it in the broader sense of ‘daughters of Nigeria’,” Abana said. “They are so clueless.”
A gentle adjective under the circumstances.