Exactly three weeks ago from today, 276 Nigerian were schoolgirls were forcibly kidnapped from their boarding school at gunpoint and driven out into the bush in the middle of the night. Fortunately 53 of these girls were able to escape, and their stories are nothing short of horrifying. Some of the captured girls are already rumored to have been sold for as little as $12, undoubtedly becoming child brides and sex slaves instead of getting the education that they so bravely had sought.
This unspeakable act of violence was carried out by a mob of gun-toting cowards led by a man who calls himself Abubakar Shekau. Shekau is a man who brags about marrying off nine year old girls. He is a man who claims that the education of a girl is a sin and that a girl should be married by the age of 12. Ironically, he is also a man who is incredibly ignorant about the education that he claims to hate and the faith that he claims to love. In reality, he is not a man at all, but rather he is a fearful-yet-dangerous animal.
So what will happen to these girls? Unfortunately the news media didn’t pick up this story until about a week ago, so the trail is quite cold. Major media and world leaders only began to take notice after a grassroots social media campaign had begun to go viral, fueled by the raw compassion and anger of a few. This few stirred the hearts of many, creating a major social media uprising centered around the hashtag #bringbackourgirls, and finally culminating the signing of a petition by more than 275,000 people. As of today, exactly three weeks after these abductions, President Obama has pledged to help Nigeria with U.S. resources and expertise. Three weeks.
How is it that the world can watch in awe week after week as we comb the bottom of the ocean for a missing jetliner, yet two weeks pass before our leaders and major media channels even acknowledge that there has been an incident with these girls? Cynics might say that the slow response is about power, oil politics, or race– but I believe it is about knowledge. The world needs to know about the hopes, dreams and sheer potential of those girls. The world needs to understand the courage that it took for those girls to seek education as means to escape from the oppression around them. The world needs to know about the nightmare that is child marriage, and the violence and injustice that occurs in the dark crevices of world, where ignorance and violence feed on the defenseless on a regular basis. Once the world knows about these things, the only human response is unilateral action. Let’s put the same intensity into finding those girls, that we put into finding that black box. Let’s shout a message to the world for all to hear– girls deserve an education and the slavery stops NOW!