Wednesday, May 07, 2014

A Global Shame

The kidnapping of 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria happened three weeks ago. I’m glad the world is outraged now, but it took three weeks for American news media to pay any attention to this story. Fox News was busy obsessing about Obamacare and Benghazi, as usual; CNN was focused on every dim ping in the ocean in their can’t-let-this-story-go endless focus on the downed Malaysian jet; and MSNBC was still staring at the George Washington Bridge Over Political Waters, not to mention the political horse races of 2014 and 2016. I don’t know what broadcast network news was doing because I don’t watch them. But even the usually ahead-of-the-game PBS NewsHour let us down. In print…even the New York Times was asleep at the wheel.

Three hundred schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria because a bunch of Islamist terrorist wackjobs don’t want girls to go to school – especially Western-style schools. They would rather sell them for $12.00 each, sending them off into the global child sex trafficking trade, or to individual men who want child brides, or someone, anyone, who wants free, hard labor. Only social media – primarily Facebook and Twitter – stopped sharing recipes and selfies long enough to sound an alarm loud enough for the news media and the public to hear. Good for them. Shame on us.

What happened to these 300 girls – yes, about 50 got away but more have been taken since – is a disgusting outrage. But it is part of a larger global shame that has been going on for years and has been shockingly under-reported, never mind addressed. Every year, a million children, mostly girls, literally from infancy to tweens, are trafficked worldwide, around 300,000 in the U.S. alone, primarily for the unimaginable misery of sex slavery, a lesser number for grueling manual labor. And these are just the stats on kids. The numbers for adult women are even more horrific, and men get roped into this travesty as well.

Throughout human history, human life has been regarded as pretty cheap in many quarters. But now we’re in the 21st century, the bold progressive future, and it’s just as bad if not in some ways worse. Boko Haram may be a new name to us on the roster of terrorists who commit the unspeakable, but they’ve been around for years and our government, and the Nigerian government, and the governments of the world, have known about them – them and others, who pretend to act in the name of religion or culture or tradition or unashamedly in the name of greed run amok. Women, as always, are favorite targets, hardly regarded as human and certainly unentitled to autonomy or dignity. They’re fair game for brutality, especially sexual brutality, because men who are crazy are usually particularly crazy when it comes to women and sex.

And, not for nothing, another thing happened while world news ignored those Nigerian schoolgirls snatched from their beds. The wealthy, dapper, Sultan of Brunei decided that what his little oil-soaked country needed was the mania of Sharia Law, which has a special bug up its Islamist ass for women, gays, and anything resembling the rights of free speech or thought. Stone them! Mame them! It’s what Allah would want! Really?

Three hundred schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria for the crime of being female and getting an education. Now, with international intervention, some of them may be rescued. But much damage will already have been done. The rest, the majority, will be forever lost in the anonymous swamp of child trafficking. Are we, the world, going to confront this issue now? I’m not optimistic. Just heartsick. And really, really pissed.

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