#BringBackOurGirls: An International Plea for Women
By Julia Schemmer
As a student, I have every complaint under the sun about my education, whether it’s an upcoming AP test or an enormous assignment due the next day. For me, ‘senioritis’ began my sophomore year, as my heart itched to become a college student. Although I am grateful to learn, I often forget how blessed I am, as a young woman in a developed nation, to receive such opportunities of a free, safe education.
On April 14th, 2014, the fate of two hundred and thirty schoolgirls was changed forever when a suspected Islamic extremist group, the Boko Haram kidnapped them from their high school and forced them into trucks.
Boko Haram is a militant Islamic group that believes no Muslim should participate in any political or social activity related to the West, including voting, secular education, and even wearing shirts and pants. Since the launch of their insurgency in 2009, the Boko Haram has attacked schools, civilians, and the Nigerian military. Although the full name of the group is “Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad” (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”, Nigerian citizens have nicknamed it the “Boko Haram”, meaning “Western education is forbidden.”
The Boko Haram believes that Western education corrupts the moral values of Islamic people, especially of women. Under their interpretation of Sharia law, women are only to care for the husband and perform their household duties, not go to school and receive an education. Although there have been escapes, many girls are still held captive by the Islamic group, rumored to be forced into performing sexual activities and chores.
230 girls. The immensity of this situation surpasses my understanding. 230 girls with a purpose, a desire on their heart to learn, to read, to grow. 230 girls with families, nervously anticipating any sign of progress to bring their girls home. 230 girls now living with a compromised innocence and childhood.
In response to this issue, several people have used social media to bring awareness to the issue. Celebrities and world figures such as Amy Poehler, Michelle Obama, and Malala Yousafzai have catalyzed a movement where they take a picture of themselves holding a sign, using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Worldwide public protests and riots have occurred as a result of the frustrations from the Boko Haram.
The liberty to go to school and receive an education is a blessing I often take for granted. In the midst of AP testing, homework, projects, class work, and extracurricular activities, I had forgotten the plight of millions of girls my age that risk their lives daily to attend school. The kidnapping of the 230 girls is tragic, but it is only a fraction of the 800,000 women trafficked across international borders a year. The reality is, girls worldwide are fighting for their educational rights, and it’s time we stepped up to help them. Bring back our girls!