The other day on the bus, I overheard two former classmates, who had
bumped into one another, systematically listing everyone they had been to school with who had since got married, or had babies. Those from outside London will sometimes forget that it is a city formed of communities, that, at the base of it, each area is little more than a village made up of people with shared histories and lives. “Georgia’s married too,” said the girl. The guy expressed surprise: “How old is she?” “She’s 19,” the girl replied. “That’s too young,” he said.
In the UK, many would agree that 19 is too young to make a lasting, consensual commitment to another human being. But across the world, in another village, “too young” is more than an unthinking aside made during a gossiping session. As far as the leader of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram is concerned, however, 19 is 10 years over the hill. In a video released yesterday, he spoke of plans to sell the 270 kidnapped Nigerian teenage girls into slavery. “I will marry off a girl at the age of nine,” he said.
If anyone needed proof that there are men in this world who hold wells of hatred for women so deep that they believe there is justification in their systematic rape, torture and imprisonment, then this is it. This man grins out from the screen-grabbed footage as he declares that “women are slaves” in the name of Islam.
It goes without saying that there is no justification, in religion or culture or ideology, for this barbaric slavery of forced child marriage, a practice that affects 10 million children worldwide. Iraqi laws put the age of puberty at nine years old; Yemen has no minimum age for marriage; India has 40% of the world’s child brides. It is a massive and enduring problem that has been brought into sharp relief by the tragedy in Nigeria.
The kidnap of the estimated 270 girls is shameful, sickening and horrifying. It is every condemnatory adjective we have, as is Nigeria’s embarrassing failure to take any action to save them.
As western feminists, we have a duty to stand in solidarity with these girls, their mothers, and their fathers. I don’t know anyone who would fail to condemn these atrocities, but there is perhaps a small reluctance to get involved, for fear of interfering, for appropriating the struggles of others, or for failing to understand the relevant cultural and religious politics. It’s perhaps easier to stick to what we know, to casual sexism, boardroom quotas and gendered marketing, than it is to confront this issue of slavery, forced marriage, and child rape that is distant and profoundly revolting.
The aforementioned western feminist struggles are all important issues, of course, but I think it is fair to say that we can afford to park them for the time being. It is my view that there is a case for military assistance, but on a more basic level, there are things that we can do to support those who are begging for help. The British feminist movement has immense social media clout. We can all follow the Facebook group Bring Back Our Girls and use the hashtag. We can write to our world leaders, demanding that they offer assistance to rescue the girls. We can organise rallies and marches locally, as many others already have. We can support and listen to the Nigerian community here in the UK.
I wish these girls had our freedom; the freedom to move around their own villages; to sit on a bus in the years to come and gossip about their schoolfriends. The freedom to think that 19 is too young. As Bring Back Our Girls say themselves, likes alone are not enough.
please be reminded that the Face of world organisation, the brand owners and global producers of GLOBAL FASHION WEEK AND AWARDS, is hosting the world in Abuja Nigeria, its global lifestyle, fashion, cultural creativity craft event and gathering of world fashion icons., We today announces the debut of this spectacular events. Following a successful promotion of fashion and creativities for years. this event will experience Africa Fashion Collective from New York ,Europe, asia and other parts of the world. Global fashion Fashion Week – It will be held in abuja, Nigeria from 25th to 30 AUGUST 2014, at an exclusive venue, SHERATON HOTEL AND TOWERS ABUJA NIGERIA .WORLDS, Africa’s Top 100 designers, selected by invitation only, by a panel of experts, will showcase their collections for 2014. As with GLOBAL Fashion WEEK Collective, this showcase will come as the fitting end to the traditional fashion season after other Fashion Weeks and is designed to compete with and complete the world’s global fashion designers. The global Fashion Week will end with the global Fashion Awards on the night of 30 august 2014. Then, to validate their successful collections, the very best of these designers will also be invited to participate . GFW s mission is to continue to promote young and established WORLD and African Diaspora designers. This new initiative will complement the showcasing opportunities offered by the traditional Fashion Weeks around the world. FACE OF WORLD ORGANISATION, founder, BUCHI GEORGE says GFW is already leading the way and due to the unprecedented demand to showcase Africa’s finest designers, from Deola Sagoe, Tiffany Amber, Clive Rundle and Black Coffee, to newcomers like Maki Oh and Christie Brown and others. We feel the time is right for us create our very own series of spectacular events and show the world that Africa is here to stay at the cutting edge of international fashion.” Award-winning, London-based show producers, Bacchus, will produce the GFW Fashion series of events please visit http://www.globalfashionweek.org/ for more info. thanks