Mothers of kidnapped girls weep on the grounds of the burned-out ruins of Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria.
Anguish and heartache Mothers weep at the site of their daughters’ burned school in Chibok, Nigeria.Adam Nossiter—The New York Times/Redux

The Boko Haram schoolgirl abductions are only one example of the global scourge of human trafficking

At first, the students thought the men who arrived that night had come to save them. This is what the soldiers insisted they were doing when they ordered the girls out of their dormitories in the dark of April 14. But as the school burned, it became clearer what the girls were being protected from: education. In the Hausa tongue native to that part of northern Nigeria, the group’s name, Boko Haram, means, roughly, “Western education is unclean.”
Boko Haram set off a wave of outrage. Casual observers and celebrities took their protest to social media, while international agencies and diplomats began to express concern through official channels. The global wail served as a wake-up call to the millions who were under the misimpression that slavery had been eradicated.
This appears in the May 26, 2014 issue of TIME.