Ever since 300 girls were abducted from their school in north-eastern Nigeria last month – almost exactly a month ago, in fact – it has been hard to find anyone across the globe who does not regard their abduction as anything other than a most dreadful and despicable act, unworthy of fellow human beings. The campaign to #BringBackOurGirls has gone viral, and offers of help – military assistance, no less – have come in from countries including the US and the UK. The whole world seems united that this is wrong.
And yet … someone (some people, most likely) did it. Someone was responsible. And moreover, that someone, represented by the leader of Boko Haram, the fundamentalist terror group active in parts of Africa, including Nigeria, has taken to the internet to taunt the rest of the world and to ‘justify’ this reprehensible act by reference to Allah and his will. He has said he will sell the girls – and shows no sign of remorse.
Sitting in first world countries, the selling of girls seems incomprehensible. It is – it is utterly incomprehensible. How can anyone regard another human life as so valueless that it can be bought and sold, mistreated and tortured, picked up and abandoned at will? Scratch – not very deeply, even – beneath the surface of our collective memories, however, and we see many millions of (recent) examples. The East African slave trade, which lasted for centuries until it was formally ended in the early 19th century, is a scar on our history and affected millions; the global trade in human trafficking is – according to estimates – the third most profitable illegal trade after arms and drugs trafficking. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today. More than just ‘someone’ thinks that this is all right.
It isn’t all right. It has never been right, and it never will be. Human life is precious, and to be valued. Children are our future, and they are to be nurtured and helped to grow into the best of themselves. We owe it to them, and we owe it to humanity – our task as enlightened human beings must be to move beyond the selfish, base and cruel to the selfless and the humane. We owe it to all of us to move forward, to be better people, and to make the world a better place as we do.
There are moments in history when we have the opportunity to stand up and say this, and to make a difference. This is one of those moments. So – let us unite. And let us #BringBackOurGirls.