Three weeks ago, some 300 people vanished without a trace. This incident does not involve an airliner, cockpit voice recordings, and radar blips. All 300 people this time are children, young girls abducted from a place where they should have been safe—their school in the northern Nigerian community of Chibok. Violence against children and violence against women and girls is not new. That it still exists, however, defies description or logic. This problem has been brought to the conscious of the world recently by Malala Yousafzai and Half the Sky, a searing account of the plight of women and girls worldwide by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl Wu Dunn; human trafficking and the sex trade of minors figure prominently.
The world is waking up, taking notice, and crying out. Usually when a phenomenon goes viral, it is something that is, at best, entertaining but superficial. This time, however, social media has been used for the common good. Ramaa Mosely, an artistic director and mother of two from Los Angeles started the now-famous hashtag #BringBackOurGirls; this has now become a global rallying cry, letting the perpetrators know that the world is watching and will not stop until those girls are safe. Malala Yousafzai, herself a victim of extremist violence, has started a fund to help girls worldwide, in honor of those Nigerian girls; please visit the site, at http://malalafund.org/ and sign up. Nicholas Kristoff, long a champion of the welfare of girls and women, wrote an excellent piece in the New York Times. We often feel helpless in the face of such tragedy. He offers readers causes they can support to honor those girls, as well as mothers on this Mother’s Day. I recommend it highly: http://bit.ly/RpjDBF . His earlier, May 3, article is also extremely important: http://nyti.ms/1hDstSD
News anchor Katie Couric spoke at great length with Nicholas Kristof, Nigerian human rights leader Hafsat Abiola, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Ramaa Mosley; please watch it here: http://news.yahoo.com/video/crisis-nigeria-120000691.html . The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, in a powerful op-ed statement, said, “This horrific act offends our common humanity and demands global outrage and action. We have a responsibility to rally behind the parents, people and government of Nigeria and bring the girls back home safely.” http://bit.ly/1noMBPq
For all of us on the social media, there is a petition at Change.org: http://chn.ge/SDkHCK
There is a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/bringbackourgirls?ref=nf
And there is a Flickr group, where photographers have been spreading visual representations of the famous hashtag, at https://www.flickr.com/groups/2604610@N25/ which is where I posted the picture that accompanies this posting.
Finally, as Malala reminds us, these terrorists do not represent Islam—or any other religion for that matter. They are a band of hoodlums who represent nothing other than their own lawless, warped agenda. This public campaign is our best weapon against such forces of hate that affect all decent people, especially children.