What *can* we do to #BringBackOurGirls, really?

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A friend of mine wrote the following on Facebook today and I nodded along while reading, thinking he was dead on: this CAN’T become another #StopKony2012. (Remember that hashtag?)

‪#‎bringbackourgirls‬ cannot turn into:

1) a call for or an acceptance of US military intervention. Beware of calling for US military intervention! That has not led to anyone’s peace and sovereignty. Beware of what you are being fed and what is propagated through the media. Let’s not have Kony part 2. How much do you really know about Nigeria and what is happening there?

2) It also cannot turn into people wearing head wraps at rallies that aren’t actually making political demands or willing to do anything beyond wearing head wraps together.

Activism is about strategy + action—not just taking actions

What can you do:

Think before you act
Do your homework
Evaluate the interest of the parties involved 
Organize others
Mobilize interventions that apply pressure politically, economically or socially. (hint: wearing a head wrap does not count)

— Jef Tate

Motherlode‘s (the New York Times‘ motherhood blog) writer KJ Dell Antonia wrote an excellent piece about real ways we can help #BringOurGirlsBack:

“In the long run, the best way to fight extremism is education, especially education for girls,” he said. “More broadly, female empowerment isn’t a magic bullet, but it does help create opportunities and bring women out of the margins and give them a voice. One great program is the Village Savings and Loan, which encourages female savings and entrepreneurship around the world and has a great track record.”

Because no number of educated women are a match for men with AK-47s, we also need to support programs that involve men in promoting gender equality, including women’s education and reproductive rights, like the many members of the MenEngage Alliance, and to talk about gender equality in a way that includes men as well as women.

If the missing Nigerian schoolgirls come home, their problems won’t be over. Even assuming (with ridiculous and probably unwarranted optimism) that they have been untouched during their captivity, their communities and even their male family members may regard them as damaged goods. It’s that attitude, writ large, that led to their kidnapping; on the smaller scale, it may mean they can never regain what they have lost.

“Real action” to bring about change for the schoolgirls of Nigeria, and for the schoolgirls and boys yet to come, can come from our laptops, our raised voices and our wallets if we let the passion that this story ignited burn on. #BringBackOurGirls will end, but it won’t be the end of the story. #GenderEquality isn’t a very exciting hashtag. But it’s the only message that could, eventually, mean #NeverAgain.

Read the whole piece here.

WSJ: How a Night Out in Delhi Turned Tragic

Protesters in India. (Image via National Post)
Protesters in India. (Image via National Post)

A Woman Determined to Improve Her Position in Life Became a Victim of a Brutal Attack; Alleged Culprits on ‘Joy Ride’

By AMOL SHARMAKRISHNA POKHAREL and VIBHUTI AGARWAL
Wall Street Journal

NEW DELHI—On the evening of Dec. 16, a young female physiotherapy student went to a movie with a male friend. After, they waited at a bus stop on a busy road in a south Delhi neighborhood called Munirka.

They were, in many ways, the face of a youthful, up-and-coming India. She was 23 years old, from a lower-caste rural family, according to news reports. She was a role model in her neighborhood, reports said, engrossed in her studies in the northern city of Dehradun, paying tuition with money raised when her parents sold their land.

“She wanted to ensure that she studied well, stood on her own feet and made it big in life so she could ensure a better future for her family,” a friend told the Sunday Express.

Her companion on Dec. 16 was a 28-year-old software engineer at a local technology company. The two victims’ names haven’t been disclosed by authorities.

The same evening, not far away, a much different side of youthful India was on display. Two brothers—Ram and Mukesh Singh—cooked some chicken at their home in a slum called Ravi Dass Camp, a maze of narrow lanes and open drains. Neighbors describe the brothers as rowdy, heavy drinkers.

The brothers decided, with four friends, to take a “joy ride” in the bus that Ram Singh drove for a living, according to police statements. None of the six, who are all in custody, nor their lawyers could be reached for comment.

A little after 9 p.m., the bus pulled in at the stop where the couple waited, police say. They were the only ones to board, paying a fare of about 20 rupees, or 35 cents, according to police. Thus began an encounter so gruesome that it shocked the nation and, ultimately, took a life.

As the bus set off, three of the men who were seated in the driver’s cabin started harassing the two passengers, police say. When the software engineer tried to resist, the men started beating him on his legs, arms and head, according to police.

The woman tried to intervene to protect her friend. The men dragged her to the rear of the bus and raped her as they drove around south Delhi for an hour, police say.

Read more in this Dec. 3- story in Wall Street Journal.