The other side of Boko Haram

The terrorist organization Boko Haram made news this week following their kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls. The kidnappings occurred weeks ago, but outcry from the families finally hit the international stage.

Boko Haram is an Islamist group opposed to Western society. They attack schools in particular as a sign of their contempt for the West. Their most recent attack involved kidnapping the schoolgirls and threatening to force the girls to marry or selling them into slavery for as little as $12.

This sparked international outrage once the media caught wind of it. There are numerous social media campaigns supporting the girls and their families. President Obama has pledged to give support to the Nigerian government, including sending in troops.

All of that is perfectly fine, and also perfectly ironic. Why? Primarily because the international concern is only for girls. Boko Haram does not just attack girls. The group has also attacked boys, most recently setting fire to a school after locking the boys in:

Islamic militants set fire to a locked dormitory at a school in northern Nigeria, then shot and slit the throats of students who tried to escape through windows during a pre-dawn attack Tuesday. At least 58 students were killed, including many who were burned alive.

They “slaughtered them like sheep” with machetes, and gunned down those who ran away, said one teacher, Adamu Garba.

Soldiers guarding a checkpoint near the coed government school were mysteriously withdrawn hours before it was targeted by the militants, said the spokesman for the governor of northeastern Yobe state.

Boko Haram has a history of targeting schools, and generally does not discriminate by sex. However, the media does, and apparently murdered boys does not raise people’s concern as much as kidnapped girls.

That is not to say that nothing should be done about the girls. We cannot allow a terrorist organization to kidnap anyone and threaten to sell them into slavery. As an international community we ought to move against them, and it should not have taken as long as it has for the Nigerian government to realize they could not manage the situation on their own.

That said, we cannot allow a terrorist organization to murder people either. We cannot give them a pass because they killed boys. Our indifference to male victimization likely emboldens Boko Haram. If they can murder boys in their sleep and receive no outcry, why can they not kidnap 200 girls?

Boko Haram is another example of how we as a community turn a blind eye to violence until it is done to the “wrong” group. The same situation happens in Afghanistan. We rail against any violence against women and girls in that country, but pay no mind to the countless boys kidnapped, raped, and sold by Afghan warlords funded by Coalition dollars.

We should be outraged by those acts of violence, but we are not. No one writes petitions, no creates hashtags, no one sends troops. As long as the victims are boys, no one cares. In that sense the girls are lucky. Had they been boys, we would still be talking about the White House Correspondence dinner.

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22 thoughts on “The other side of Boko Haram

  1. Wow, this is terrible. I had no idea that this terrorist group also went after boys…everything I’ve read in the news has only made reference to them hating *women* who get an education. In fact, many feminists are pointing to the group stating that they are an example of extremist misogyny.

    Apparently, it’s easier to get our feminist culture worked up about female issues over male ones.

  2. They have targeted boys in particular before. In one instance they killed 106 people, 105 of them boys/men. The one woman killed was killed trying to defend one of the men. The girls/women at the sight where, unlike the males, allowed to live.

  3. Toysoldier thank you for discussing that the MSM has no need for a narative that doesn’t include the victimization of girls. It sickens me that those school attacks weren’t even given 3 days of news coverage, but we rail after they kidnap the girl children. Where was the outrage for the senseless murders? In much the same way we looked at rape of women in the Sudan and DRC, but turn a blind eye to the boy children soldiers who sometimes could not even hold up an ak47 rifle. It’s because we ignore other offenses that it emboldens them to do more and more. We live in a world where narative is the end all be all.

  4. It gets much worse. Boko Haram just attacked another village, killing 150 people. Yet the media coverage is still mostly about the kidnapped girls. Again, I think it is valid to talk about the girls and to act to rescue them. But to ignore everything else Boko Haram does is a travesty.

  5. While what you’re saying certainly true and there is no doubt in my mind that the gender empathy gap does exist, in this case there may be another angle to it.

    The abduction of these girls is an ongoing event. They still are somewhere out there, in danger at this very moment, there is a possibility of them being found and rescued, while the dead boys and villagers, no matter how gruesomely they were murdered, will remain dead even if every single one of the perpetrators is found and brought before a court of justice. I hope I don’t sound too much like Hillary Clinton here, but I do think that this is at least a contributing factor to the media interest in this story.

    I remember seeing a documentary the other day that said CNN’s breakthrough moment was the round-the-clock live reporting on the rescue effort for a little child that had fallen into a well. I am sure they would not have done that if the child had not survived the fall and the effort had only been one to recover the body.

    That said, had the perpetrators in the previous cases targeting “only” boys been hunted with the same vigor that they are now, probably these abductions would never have happened.

    But actually, the picture that struck me as especially …stupid in the reports on this issue was that of a protestor holding a sign that said “Pass laws for more girl child protection” or something to that effect. I saw that and couldn’t stop wondering, why would anyone do that? Intentionally add a word to make your poster sexist?
    Just exactly what kind of protection would girls need that boys don’t require (or deserve)?

    I mean, this is very different from a (possibly evolutionary) gut reaction where violence against a female might trigger a stronger emotional response. This this the deliberate exemption of one half of the population from some kind of help that is deemed necessary for the other half.
    Even (or rather, especially) considering myself and MHRA, I cannot even begin to comprehend this way of thinking.

    Bombe 20

  6. @Bombe 20

    “Even (or rather, especially) considering myself and MHRA, I cannot even begin to comprehend this way of thinking.”

    It’s racist ( gender as race ). It’s that simple.

    Contrary to all the feminist’s big lies, this type of racism is truely rampant and extraordinary uply since it is also directed at little boys. And it is not one of those fabricated big lies. This is real.

    A lot of women, but also men, nowadays fall into that category. It’s one of the most disgraceful developments of modern times. And feministic propaganda is largely responsible for this by activating and exploiting possibly existing underlying human tendencies as every propaganda does.

    With a finger pointing also towards women, especially those white middle and upper class ones, and their bad contribution to this development:

    There is no excuse for it.

  7. Bombe, I agree this is an ongoing event. That would explain the sense of urgency. That would not, however, explain the focus on the girls being girls. Most of the commentary about this situation revolves around how horrible women and girls have it in that region of the world and how Boko Haram is another Islamic group that “hates” women. People ignore that Boko Haram attacks people in general and has previously targeted boys.

    The concern does appear to be solely because the victims are girls, not because children were kidnapped. After all, there are numerous groups in various African countries that kidnap children, rape and torture them, and sell them into slavery. It happens all the time. It is simply that most of those victims are boys used as child soldiers, which does not spark anyone’s interest.

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  9. I think public interest was very high for the “Kony 2012” scandal, which mostly involved boy child soldiers. So I’m not sure if the media attention itself is gendered, but a lot of the public responses are. But this isn’t really about gender, it’s about the spread of a particularly virulent form of militant Islamic sectarianism under which females are kidnapped and raped while males are either conscripted as expendable troops or killed. But Western media are terrified of being seen as critical of Islam, even in its most extreme iterations, so they make this about something more popular and less polarizing like “stopping global violence against women and girls.”

  10. “But this isn’t really about gender”

    “so they make this about something more popular and less polarizing like “stopping global violence against women and girls””

    Right.

  11. Just read this @Yahoo: “What Clinton didn’t mention was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the UN headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen Senators and Congressmen.

    “The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”

    In May 2012, then-Justice Department official Lisa Monaco (now at the White House) wrote to the State Department to urge Clinton to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. The following month, Gen. Carter Ham, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, said that Boko Haram provided a “safe haven” for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and was likely sharing explosives and funds with the group. And yet, Hillary Clinton’s State Department still declined to place Boko Haram on its official terrorist roster.”

    I guess not enough girls were killed to bother.

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  14. A well-equipped team of fewer than 100 hard-core white mercenaries could wipe out Boko Haram and free the girls in a few weeks. A company called Executive Outcomes (what a delightfully Orwellian name!) did exactly that in Sierra Leone in 1995. The rebels fled in terror and the people rejoiced, but the “international community” was aghast, and convinced the Sierra Leone government to terminate EO’s contract and replace them with thousands of UN peacekeepers. The rebels then quickly regrouped and restarted the war.

  15. Pingback: Boko Haram kidnaps 97 boys and the world remains silent | Toy Soldiers

  16. It is indeed a pain to know this. Yes the international society is made to cry only for women and girls making it extremely difficult for boys to live in today’s world. Thanks that You have taken up this topic. I do write for men and boys in India as I have observed same hatred for boys. Writing is a good tool to bring about change for our boys..

  17. Pingback: Boko Haram kidnapped 10,000 boys and the world remained silent | Toy Soldiers

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