Usually when social media gets outraged over something, it’s a domestic issue (Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks) or an international problem that no one really understands (see: Kony 2012). This time, it’s an event that happened on the other side of the world but has hit home in every nation because it all comes down to one thing: the wrongful abduction of innocent lives.
Last week, news broke that nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls had been abducted by Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group publicly against the education of women. So far, reports say the missing girls have probably been sold into slavery or wifehood by their kidnappers, but none of the girls have been seen or heard from since being taken from their school.
This all happened on April 14. Most of America didn’t know it had happened until April 30.
Ramaa Mosley, a Los Angeles director, heard the story on the news and started the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which was retweeted millions of times by movers-and-shakers like Hilary Clinton and celebrities like Kerry Washington. Michelle Obama, Amy Poehler, Alicia Keys and others, who joined the movement by posting pictures of themselves holding signs with the slogan. A Facebook page now tracks the number of demonstrations staged throughout the country.
The hashtag went on to inspire leaders all over the world to call on Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan to instigate an investigation — he hadn’t addressed the crime in the two weeks following it. Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old literal poster child for women’s education and one of Lydia’s heroines, talked with Christiane Amanpour about the case, saying “girls in Nigeria are my sisters, and it’s my responsibility that I should speak up for my sisters.”
On May 12, a video released by Boko Haram. The video, showing about 100 girls wearing full veils and praying in an undisclosed location is 17-minutes long. In the video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks, offering to release more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his fighters last month in exchange for prisoners. Authorities are holding hundreds of suspected Boko Haram militants and there have been many jail break attempts. Shekau stated that none of the girls would be released “while you detain our brothers.”
Let’s all speak up for our sisters. Join us in tweeting or instagram using #BringBackOurGirls to join the movement and raise awareness about the plight of the Nigerian girls.
Text by Kate Everson