The April 15th abduction of over 200 Nigerian girls who were trying to take their school exams is terrifying and horrifying. While all of those who follow the news on any level are confronted with a myriad of horrific stories on any given day, this one has taken hold in my psyche. I can’t let go of the image of the Nigerian schoolchildren who were abducted from their school by Boko Haram. These Islamic fundamentalists apparently believe they are doing the work of God by not allowing these girls to become educated. They also somehow believe, however, that they are further doing the work of God by brutalizing these young girls and destroying their lives and their chance at happiness. I feel utter despair in the face of such depravity masquerading as righteousness. The world news is filled with instances of honor killings and masked men throwing acid at school girls or setting fire to schools where girls are receiving an education. What can we hope for in trying to create a safer, saner world for girls and women when the gap between our views and theirs is such a clearly unbridgeable and darkness-filled chasm?
Further, it seems to me that if over 200 girls had been abducted from a school virtually anywhere in Europe, the reaction from both the US and other European nations would have taken the form of more than just words of condemnation. There would have been swift, immediate, and coordinated action among several nations. And CNN would be covering it 24 hours a day.
I understand there are no doubt enormous difficulties and obstacles in pursuing the abductors in a nation the size of and as poor as Nigeria, but if our only response is in the form of words that these men will dismiss as the heresy of Godless Westerners who “don’t understand,” what chance to do these girls—or any girls in such regions—have?