By Lauren Menjivar, III Form
Bring Back #BringBackOurGirls
Remember the campaign #BringBackOurGirls? It was a worldwide trend on Twitter last year between April and May. Maybe you forgot about it because #ALSIceBucketChallenge took over the world during the summer, but what if I told you #BringBackOurGirls still exists. What if I told you that 219 girls out of 276 from Nigeria are still held captive by an Islamic jihadist group named Boko Haram. What would you do? Would you just continue with your life as if everything is fine or will you become one of those special individuals in the world who spread the news to others and say, “It hasn’t ended.” You might be saying, “What does this have anything to do with me? I’m not living there.” Okay, maybe you aren’t living there, but there are other individuals who are living in fear every day because someone is threatening to kill them. Put yourselves in their shoes: Is this how the world should be? They’re humans, too, and they have human rights just like we do.
On the night of April 14, 2014, a group of men came to Chibok Government Secondary School in Borno State, Nigeria and attacked the school. They rushed in and pretended to be guards, gaining the girls’ trust that everything was fine. The men told the girls to follow them; they did. It was too late for the girls to realize that these men were part of Boko Haram and they were kidnapping them. Boko Haram took the girls away on trucks to one of their nearby campsites in Konduga, Borno State, Nigeria. The girls were then married off to soldiers and converted to Islam; this became a worldwide news. After it was shown to the world what was happening in Nigeria, people from all over the globe, including celebrities and Michelle Obama, spread awareness by using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. It became a huge success for two months, and it gave people of Nigeria hope that they will see the girls again. Unfortunately, it did not last for a long time; people moved on and other news began to appear. Because of the lack of awareness, most people forgot about Nigeria–forgot about the girls and lost hope.
Why did Boko Haram target the girls of Chibok? Why is it always women? Boko Haram is translated to “Western education is forbidden.” The group is known to be against voting and secular education, or anything “Western” in general. They do not believe women should be educated and that women are meant to be cooks or sex slaves.
The thought that women are meant to be objects for men to enjoy infuriates me. Women are more than what men think. They can do anything men can do, yet they are degraded by some societies. Are we going to allow them to treat young women like this? Allow them to take away education that everyone has the right to have? By doing nothing, we are accepting the mistreatment of women. Women are not the only victims of Boko Haram’s intolerable actions. Children have also been kidnapped and used as suicide bombers as well as women. As for the men, they have been killed because they were a threat to Boko Haram.
Why am I bringing back the difficult subject if we have already forgotten about it? In mid-February, III Form students began a new unit on human rights in their Global Seminar classes, and Boko Haram became a critical topic in our discussions in my yellow block class with Ms. London. She assigned us to read the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” from the United Nations. As I read the 30 articles of the human rights listed on the document, I identified rights that have been violated by Boko Haram. Article 3 states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person;” article 4 forbids slavery and slave trade; article 5 prohibits torture and cruel treatment or punishment; article 16 (2) declared, “Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses,” and article 26 also states, “Everyone has the right to education” and “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” It is evident Boko Haram has violated these rights from the Nigerians: the people are living in fear every day because they are afraid to die in the hands of murderers. The women and children have more to worry about: they will be married off to terrible men and the children will not be able to go to school for the fear that the group will attack their schools.
Imagine the life they must be living in. Don’t you think they’re living in a dystopian world? What can we do to stop what is happening with Boko Haram? We may live in a small school and not be able to physically do something, but we can make a difference: we can bring back awareness; let’s let the world know what is happening in Nigeria. If we spread the news by social media, millions of people will be able to see that we must put a stop to it. Do not hesitate. Join the III Formers by taking time to read a slip left in your mailbox; check the posters around the halls made by Tony Banson; like Natalie Bartlett’s facebook page titled Boko Haram Awareness. With all of your help, we can achieve the ultimate goal in the world: for everyone to live and with human rights.
Lauren Menjivar is a III Form boarding student from South Bound Brook, NJ. She lives in Pine/Oak and enjoys reading books, listening to music, and playing basketball.
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