On a scale of one to ten, what is more horrible than the kidnapping of little girls to be sold into sexual slavery in order to scare folks into not sending girls to school?
How should we react to that? Is it as important as sanctioning a country for the invasion of another? Is it as important as searching for a plane that has disappeared at sea? Or rescuing miners trapped in a mine?
There are problems in the world that are important. Other problems that are urgent. The international community has to decide where to direct its focus, it’s condemnation and it’s resources. The press can either shine it’s light on festering wounds or create distractions.
Then there are problems that are BOTH hugely important and desperately urgent. So much so, that they merit the full weight of our attention. How long will we drift on the wings of oblivion and apathy?
Gaining ascendancy among the world’s most pernicious ideologies is the concept that the subjugation of women is the cornerstone of fundamentalist world domination. This ideology has reared it’s ugly head in many corners of the globe: in the use of rape as a weapon of war, the torching of girls’ schools, the throwing of acid in the faces of women, and some governments outlawing girls from attending school.
Has the world community expressed its outrage against such savage thinking? Has it banded together to eradicate it? Has it named it as a crime against humanity? Have State Departments made it an issue of international relations? Have presidents and world leaders stepped up to speak against it? Have we formed coalitions to sanction the culprits? Have we formed a world task force to hunt down and pursue the proponents of this egregious, offensive ideology?
History will no doubt document our willingness or failure to act. Our future as a global civilization may well hang in the balance, for as the terror of this ideology spreads unchecked due to our failure to recognize it as a threat, an apocalyptic reckoning may be on its way.
Case in point, in 1996 a government came to power in Afghanistan which outlawed the education of girls and sought to impose severe regressive restrictions on its women. While this transpired, the world wrung it’s hands. But despite the fact that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the majority of the world’s countries are signatory, clearly specifies in article 26, “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages”, we failed to act.
Meanwhile, under that government, in five short years, the main proponents of that ideology were given room to incubate and fester, to the point that they could reach out their tentacles and bring down Twin Towers and government buildings in a sophisticated operation involving the high jacking of no less than four airplane jets.
Another case in point, in 2012, militants shot schoolgirl Malala Yousefsai in Pakistan for her activism in pro of girl’s education. The world poured out it’s sympathy to 14 year old. But the larger story here is that in her little corner of the world, those same militants destroyed over 1100 schools.
How can we fail to see that groups capable of claiming that the enslavement or death of a girl is preferable to her education are eventually going to turn their evil logic to the extermination of the rest of us? This is not a local problem. This is not the internal affairs of any one country (which may or may not be willing or able to respond to it). This is a global movement that will soon coalesce if left unchecked.
The world has grown weary of wars fought to satisfy the greed of politicians. We no longer see it as an effective solution to political conflicts. This evolution in our thinking is a good thing as there are many other instruments of collective security to be used now, including sophisticated economic and diplomatic sanctions. But there must still be a place for just wars in defense of the innocent. What if these marvelously trained Special Forces that currently exist were used to that end? What if they were used with laser focus to swiftly apprehend such savage individuals whose goals are so completely in violation of internationally agreed norms? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states in article 4, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” What if we had a world task force to go find the Nigerian girls and bring them home?
The ultimate question to be asked, though, is this: What keeps us from seeing women’s rights as human rights? And why do we not see the threat to those rights as a threat to the ultimate survival of humanity itself?