Emily Madalena reminds us of #bringbackourgirls and discusses why we seem to, in one act, become enraged and then forget about tragedy and conflict
Do you remember #bringbackourgirls?
In case you’ve forgotten, an Islamist Jihadi group, Boko Haram, attacked a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria on 15th April. More than 200 girls, aged 16-18 and in their last year of schooling, were kidnapped.
Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and later released a video on 12th May showing over 100 girls dressed in hijabs and reciting verses from the Qur’an. He refused to return them to their terrified families, demanding that imprisoned Boko Haram members be freed.
The international community instantly exploded.
Great Britain, the United States, France, China, Canada, Iran, and Israel all offered assistance to either locate the missing girls or to hunt down their kidnappers. “#bringbackourgirls” trended globally on Twitter. First Lady Michelle Obama vocalized her support for the movement on 7 May:
— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) May 7, 2014
That was almost six months ago.
On 1st Novemeber, Shekau blew on the spark and caused another roaring fire by releasing a second video. In the video he laughs, telling us that the girls were sold into marriage in the span of those quiet six months. Sold like cattle.
But what happened in those six months between the two videos? Do you remember anyone talking about it after the first week or two? In The Guardian, Anna Leach said:, “The world has moved on.”
Simply put: we stopped caring. Of course, our hearts now go out to these girls just as strongly as when they were first kidnapped, but in those six months in between now and then, we just didn’t care.
Shortly after the mass kidnapping, it seemed that we suddenly had other, newer – perhaps even bigger – things to care about.
On 5 June, Isis began its offensive through northern Iraq. People tuned in from around the world to watch the World Cup from 12th June to 13th July. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in Ukraine on 17th July. Tensions grew between Israel and Hamas from 8th July to 26th August, resulting in the deaths of almost 2,200 people and the creation of hundreds of thousands of refugees. On 18th September, Scotland voted against independence. The next day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared the Ebola virus to be “a threat to international peace and security.” The United States and several Arab partners began their air strike campaign in Syria on 22nd September.
The 24-hour news cycle constantly churns out new emergencies and tragedies, to the extent that it can be tempting to forget what happened the day before. It seems we always have something new to worry about, a new question that needs answering. There is always something happening that demands our immediate attention, our instant emotions, our powerful words, and our precious time.
You’ve already forgotten about the kidnapped girls, haven’t you?
Featured image credit: Michelle Obama