By Samantha Wynn
On April 15, 2014, in a small town in northern Nigeria, the Boko Haram (an Islamic terrorist organization) kidnapped roughly 300 girls, between the ages of 15 and 18, from their safe house, where the girls were boarding before finishing their final exams.
Just imagine this situation: these girls, who are only a few years younger than us, were asleep when dozens of vans filled with militants holding machine guns raided their dorm and kidnapped nearly all 300 girls.
A few escaped, but the majority of the girls were not as fortunate.
The girls were the brightest and most promising scholars that their home villages could offer; whether they were on track to becoming doctors, teachers or lawyers, these girls were pursuing a higher education in order to improve their living conditions and those of their families.
Yet, as a direct result of this attempt to get an education, they have been kidnapped by terrorists and are now being sold into brothels. They are auctioned off to militants as ‘wives,’ at the price of the U.S. equivalent of $12 each. They are being forced into human trafficking and sex slavery.
The Nigerian government has done next to nothing to help save these girls, and there has not been enough international pressure on the government to do something about it.
I can’t think of more appropriate venue for the use of Western liberal democracy’s considerable military and intelligence than to take down the disgusting group that calls itself the Boko Haram.
It is important to note what is at stake here is not only these girls’ lives, but is also the future of education. If the kidnapped girls are not returned soon, no parents from the area are going to send their children to school again.
Furthermore, given that this occurred in an area where not even half of adults are literate, the community is likely to slide into greater illiteracy. This will increase the region’s economic difficulties.
Education isn’t just about building schools. It is also about ensuring children’s security so their parents feel safe sending their kids to school in the first place.
If this happened anywhere else in the world, it would be one of the biggest news stories this year.
What if the girls were on ferry that sank in South Korea? Or what if these girls were on Flight 370? If they were, this would be all over the media.
But because this attack is part of the global backlash against educating women, extremist groups like the Boko Haram, who believe that women do not have the right to an education, see their actions as legitimate.
Newsflash, Boko Haram! Times are a-changing, and women are going to rise to power whether you like it or not.
But until then, extremist groups like these burn down hundreds of schools annually and kill thousands of young girls who just want to learn to read.
Accounts of acid being thrown in the faces of young children walking to school in these conservative areas are nothing out of the ordinary. Imagine if that were the norm in the United States!
It is our social responsibility to raise awareness about some of the harsh realities that we are sheltered from while living in this wonderful bubble called Union.
When I hear accounts like these, it makes my blood boil.
Focusing on events like the attack in northern Nigeria really puts things into perspective and makes me feel quite humbled.
It is absurd that we are not more aware of these gruesome and brutal events that are going on in the world around us.
It is so important to at least have a basic understanding of the prejudices facing women living in developing countries around the world.
Of the 300 girls kidnapped, over 275 of them are still missing.
Knowledge is power, people! Events similar to what is happening in Nigeria need to be discussed, because if we just ignore them, nothing will be done and millions of voices will continue to be silenced.