Over 200 schoolgirls have been kidnapped in Nigeria, with the militant group Boko Haram claiming responsibility. Girls wanting an education is clearly wrong, they say, particularly if it’s western education, and so they will be sold, as wives, for $12 each.
I’m British, so that $12 comes out at £7. Which is nothing short of an obscenity. Life is cheap, the saying goes, but it’s still a crime – a sin – that young girls can be traded for less than a round at Starbucks, that they can be abandoned to their fate by governmental heel-dragging, by a media that seems only slightly more than indifferent.
Or by expressions of religion that promote dogma and politics over compassion and love for individuals. It hasn’t been long since the Evangelical Right withdrew sponsorship for 10,000 children because World Vision tried to change its policy towards gay employees. When religion is all about power, it’s the powerless that gets trampled on; kidnapped children become statistics, brief and fading news items (even today, BBC reports on the BBC website were viewed less than a preview of the Eurovision Song Contest). It’s fundamentally dehumanising.
But humanity finds ways to fight back. Social media is being used to raise awareness of the situation; protests have been mobilised across the world. I encourage everyone reading this to keep the story in the public eye and to follow @bringgirlsback on Twitter; it may not feel like much, but we don’t have the authority to deploy special forces and sometimes we win by keeping stories alive.
And for the pray-ers out there, the blog ‘A Church for Starving Artists’ is asking readers to commit to selecting and praying for one of the girls until they’re released – a list of names is at that link, and I’d encourage you to visit.
I chose Saratu Emmanuel; her surname means ‘God with us’ and I think that’s important, why prayer is important – the need to respond as God would truly have us respond, not with some diseased parody of holiness and conviction; to pray and talk and shout until lost children are safely home.