We live in a world of the 24-hour news cycle. When stories are constantly broadcast, they hold our attention. Sometimes; however, that attention is fleeting. Once the story fades, the thoughts, concerns and emotions that it originally triggered fall by the wayside and it ultimately becomes a distant memory.
I’m attempting to keep one story alive: the plight of the 276 missing Nigerian girls that were abducted while they were asleep. The ruthless thugs, Boko Horan, have claimed responsibility for this tragic act. I could easily cite statistics about this al-Qaeda-influenced terrorist group, but doing so, in my opinion, would bring them the attention they desire and the notoriety that I refuse to bestow upon them. According to one account, the girls heard gunfire in the distance and were relieved when armed men entered their dormitory under the pretext of being soldiers. They were told “don’t worry we’ve come to rescue you.” They soon learned; however, that this was a lie and that they had been captured by the enemy.
The global uprising that occurred in the wake of this tragic event evidences the fact that when the world becomes aware, the world can change. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has become the worldwide battle-cry as mothers, fathers, sons and daughters have tweeted, posted, liked, typed and created posters, shirts and banners with this unifying slogan in a global effort to show that on this issue we stand as one. This resounding mandate to bring back OUR girls has moved nations from inaction to action and captivated the world.
Note that the slogan embraces the missing 276 as our own. It is not their girls. It is not Nigeria’s children. We have claimed them as OUR girls. No terrorist may not come as literally thieves in the night to pounce upon and carry away school children sleeping soundly in an American dormitory. However, the thought of any harm, whether large or small, descending upon the innocent brings out a level of fear, coupled with determination, that you cannot have what is OURS. On this issue I am not just a citizen of the United States, I am also a citizen of the world and the world is not only watching, but rising to demand that we get our girls back.
After 18 days of inaction by the Nigerian Government, it was the collective voice of women all over the world joined with men, politicians, celebrities and social organizations that finally moved the Nigerian Government and international partners to action. But much more remains to be done. In recent months, we’ve seen satellites and the most sophisticated equipment known to man searching for a missing plane and the joint force of naval and maritime personnel sadly and oh so tragically searching the ocean for missing ferry passengers. At the same time, parents of our missing girls humbly pitched in and pooled together what little money they had to buy gas for motorbikes so they could, without government, military or law enforcement assistance, ride into the forest where they believed armed terrorist were hiding their children.
This disparity is exacerbated by the fact that the abductions occurred in a in a country and a continent that is too often overlooked and cast aside. That is why I join those that are using their voice to force action for the 276. Because in doing so we boldly remind the world that if we do not stand up for and demand a response for our 276 girls we do a disservice to the approximately 3.4 billion girls that need to know that when they lay their head on the pillow at night, that nothing but the grace of God will wake them up from their sleep.
Scott is the subcommittee director and counsel for the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Management and Efficiency. She practiced law in North Carolina for ten years prior to becoming a Congressional staffer. Her opinions are her own.