Written by Lili la Scala

In The News

The need to keep shouting

In 2014, terrorists Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls. Two years on, 219 of the Chibok girls are still missing. Why aren’t we talking about this more, asks Lili La Scala.

The schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko HaramWe live in a global community. A village as large as this planet on which we reside, and as small as a mere comment on a social media platform.

As well as living in a global village, we also live in real-life communities. Communities of mothers, fathers and children. People raising families. Educating their children, watching them grow and develop, encouraging their dreams and proudly seeing them emerge like butterflies.

Every morning, watching them make their way to school and in the afternoon hearing all about the wonderful things that their little sponge-like hippocampi have sucked up during the day. Into each little being is poured so much love and devotion, all hopes and fears and all the wonderful neuroses that one’s psyche has to offer.

Imagine the horror if, one night, men came and took that child away. Not only that child but also 275 other young women from your neighbourhood. That is what happened to families in Chibok, a dirt-poor farming town in Nigeria’s north-eastern state of Borno, on 15 April 2014, when the terrorists Boko Haram stole 276 children.

It has been two years since those young women were so ruthlessly taken and while there have been some escapes, it’s thought that 219 girls are still imprisoned.

Last week, a ‘proof of life’ video was obtained and released by CNN, featuring 15 of the schoolgirls and sparking hope that the young women taken from Chibok could still be rescued. The Nigerian government is giving little away as to what action they are taking to make this happen.

“It was reported last year that some of the girls had been sold into slavery for roughly £5 each; others had been forcibly married to Boko Haram fighters and they may have been killed.”

As a friend recently reminded me, the loss of a child is a pain not only suffered by the parents but also the spiderweb of people who share in that love. It is an ache that sends creeping fingers of loss throughout an entire community. Since the abductions, at least 18 of the parents have died of stress-related illness.

Two hundred and nineteen futures that, at present, are stalled and are now forever uncertain. Young women, fighting against the odds to get educated, to unveil their potential, to step forward and with courage and conviction be the women that they want to be. The women that they should be allowed to be without fear or rebuke.

Throughout the world, people have come together on social media to call for their safe return. A global labyrinth of electronic signals dashing hither and thither, flashing up the message “Bring Back Our Girls”. Across Twitter and Instagram are images and clamour, daubed with the hashtags #BBOG and #BringBackOurGirls, calling loudly for freedom for these young women.

Would it be harder to ignore if it had happened on our island? Imagine for just one little second how huge the outcry would be if those girls had been taken from a European country, if in a school in, say, Yorkshire, all the girls had been kidnapped. It would be a war cry. A cry of epic and ongoing proportions.

The outcry from the parents and the communities would be unparalleled. Politicians would climb down from their ivory towers to express their anguish. The armed forces would be deployed and whatever shady agencies occupy the demi-monde between what is seen and unseen would be sent in to resolve the situation.

There would be an unending stream of pressure from all sides. It is so easy to send a tweet, pop to the shop and think nothing more of it. Just because we are separated by miles, we should never forget those families in Nigeria. The sadness that they endure on a daily basis as they wonder where their daughters are should be our sadness also. As they hope beyond hope that this might be the day when their girls will come back to them so should we hope.

“The loss of a child is a pain not only suffered by the parents but also the spiderweb of people who share in that love. It is an ache that sends creeping fingers of loss throughout an entire community.”

We should stop to think too, of those young women, maybe being forced into marriages with unknown men. Perhaps suffering daily sexual abuse at the hands of those to whom they have been forcibly joined in matrimony. Not knowing if their future holds any of the promise that they dreamed of in the days before their world was forever changed.

They have been taken by a ‘man cult’ of vile human beings who value women by what is between their legs rather than their ears. Who weigh their worth as you would value a heifer. Meat. Commodity. A possession, a thing, to be bought and sold and traded and ransomed to the highest bidder. It was reported last year that some of the girls had been sold into slavery for N2,000 (which is roughly £5 each), others had been forcibly married to Boko Haram fighters and they may have been killed.

A human being is not a bunny rabbit that you can pick up at a pet shop. A rabbit, incidentally, will cost around £12 – it seems very expensive when you could buy two intelligent young women for the same cost.

As yet, the search for the Chibok girls has not been successful, so we need to keep remembering; to keep shouting, “Bring Back Our Girls”. And as we lift our voices in full holler we must make the powers that rule listen and take action against the ever-creeping terror that threatens the future of women worldwide. In the global village in which we live, they are your neighbours, they are your community and they deserve so much better.

www.facebook.com/bringbackourgirls
#BBOG / #BringBackOurGirls

@Lili_La_Scala

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Written by Lili la Scala

Lili la Scala sings a bit, writes a bit and spends more time than is probably necessary discussing the toilet habits of her son. Bona fide vintage addict, though she is sure she sounds less tragic when described as a 'collector'.