Having the opportunity to go to Uni is incredible, and sometimes we forget that. The past year has brought our attention to the plight of girls all over the world who are less lucky than us. While we may not personally be able to go in and help these girls, it is still important for us to understand what is happening to them. So, I’ve created a crash course in Boko Haram, ISIS, and the social media response to both.
In April 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by Boko Haram, a militant Islamist movement in Nigeria. Many of us were shocked and outraged. Celebrities from around the world formed the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media. The campaign brought press to the issue, but still, after all these months, the girls are yet to return home.
Late in September, rumors began to circulate that the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, had been killed. This remains largely disputed as Abubakar Shekau has reportedly appeared in the most recent video released by Boko Haram.
Sadly, Boko Haram is not the only threat to young girls in this world. ISIS is now presenting a very real and serious threat to girls. Originally, ISIS was a part of al-Qaeda, but was kicked out for being too extreme. Just let that sink in for a minute, an extremist terrorist group responsible for thousands of deaths thinks ISIS is too extreme.
A recent UN report found that ISIS has killed or injured 24,000 Iraqi civilians since the beginning of 2014. Many of those have been women and children. But it does not stop there, ISIS has also been forcing young girls and women into sex slavery.
A recent campaign began here in Britain using the hashtag #NotInMyName. This campaign allows Muslims to denounce the violence used by ISIS. But aside from that, there hasn’t been much of a response in social media to ISIS. Perhaps this is because they are such a difficult organisation to comprehend. We don’t know their final goals and many of us don’t understand their motivations. But we still need to care about these girls.
Social media affords us so many opportunities to bring awareness to issues that matter to us. #BringBackOurGirls has not been successful yet, but it did bring attention to an issue we wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
I don’t have a clever hashtag for the girls who are being abused by ISIS, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still talk about it. This article should not make you feel bad about the life you live. We are all lucky, but we cannot ignore the issues happening around us. We are strong and we can help in small ways.
Don’t forget about these girls, and don’t let anyone else forget about them either. We can make a difference if we remember these girls. We are part of a global community of girls, so let’s stick together!