On April 14, 2014 over 200 girls were taken from a government school in Nigeria, sparking a world-wide outcry demanding that the girls be returned. The Bring Back Our Girls movement, inspired by the kidnapping of the young girls by Boko Haram, a militant group seeking the implementation of a pro-shariah state in Nigeria, continues to rally in behalf of the girls, many of whom are still missing, and sheds light upon the human rights abuses being carried out against these young women.
It is heartbreaking how the rights of women and girls are overlooked, mishandled or denied in many countries all over the world and I’m reminded of pre-Islamic period in Mecca when the practice of burying female daughters alive was prevalent within Arab culture. Similarly, the birth of female daughters is frowned upon in some societies today, and the vastness of the global sex-trafficking epidemic, whose victims are predominantly female, illustrates that we should be more focused upon protecting our daughters, ensuring that that they know their rights, and doing all that we can to make sure that their rights are honored.
The Holy Quran declares in Surah At Takwir 81:8-14:
When the female (infant) buried alive, is questioned― For what crime she was killed; When the Scrolls are laid open; When the World on High is unveiled: When the Blazing Fire is kindled to fierce heat; And when the Garden is brought near―(Then) shall each soul know what it has put forward.
We will all be called to account for our deeds on the Day of Judgment and although it is a comfort to know that the perpetrators of evil against women will not be able to escape justice, we as protectors of one another must do all that we are capable of for stopping such evil.
Surah Al-Ahzab 33:35 states:
For Muslim men and women― for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves) for men and women who guard their chastity and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise― for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.
One of the most liberating aspects of Islam is that our holy scripture clearly declares that women have spiritual rights equal to those of men and thus cannot be subjected to an inferior position without going against the commands of Allah (SWT).
Girls from countries like India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Afghanistan are brutalized for going to school and according to a Somalian girl quoted in a Glamour Magazine article:
According to reports, from 2009 to early 2013, armed rebels abducted schoolchildren in at least 11 countries and roughly 15 million young girls can't go to school as a result of war. Despite these risks girls and their families persevere and go to great lengths to get to school anyway.
Only July 24th a rally was held outside of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington to mark the 100th day since the kidnapping of almost 300 girls in Nigeria and Faith McDonnell, Director of the Religious Liberty Program of the Institute on Religion and Democracy stated in an article from the National Catholic Register, “We're here to talk about over 200 girls who are still in captivity, who have been violated, some who are pregnant, who have been put into sex trafficking. But that's not the end with Boko Haram. That's just the beginning.”
Reports from August 20th indicate that the RAF is sending three warplanes to help locate the Nigerian schoolgirls taken by Boko Haram but is it too little too late? During the recent summit of African leaders in Washington, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan stated that there remain strong efforts to free the girls from their captors but he offered no details and seemed reluctant to provide information. Roughly 60 of the girls have escaped their captors, but we cannot forget about the others just because the story is no longer under the spotlight of the mainstream media. Don’t forget about our girls.