Boko Haram kidnaps 97 boys and the world remains silent

I knew this would eventually happen:

The Islamist terror group Boko Haram kidnapped at least 97 men and boys and killed 28 people this week in a raid on villages in Borno State in northeast Nigeria, a local leader and residents said Friday.

Boko Haram gunmen also injured 25 others during the raid in which scores of homes were burned, the sources said.

The gunmen raided the farming and fishing village of Doron Baga and surrounding villages on the shores of Lake Chad, about 110 miles north of the state capital, Maiduguri.

The raid and kidnappings occurred on Monday, but the news did not emerge sooner due to lack of communication and because cell phone towers were destroyed in previous Boko Haram attacks.

It is worth noting that even though the majority of the victims of this series of kidnappings and murders were male, various media outlets chose to ignore their sex. For example, the CNN article quote above is titled “Boko Haram kidnaps at least 97, kills 28 in raid.

According to an Al Jazeera article:

“They left no men or boys in the place; only young children, girls and women,” said Halima Adamu, sobbing softly and looking exhausted after a 180 km road trip on the back of a truck to the northern city of Maiduguri.

“They were shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is greatest), shooting sporadically. There was confusion everywhere. They started parking our men and boys into their vehicles, threatening to shoot whoever disobey them. Everybody was scared.”

While this news has made the rounds in digital and print media, it has had very little mention in televised news or social media. There is no #bringourboysback trending on Twitter. There are no articles discussing the travesty of using boys as cannon fodder. There are no critiques of Islam or the Middle East’s treatment of boys.

It is as if the world simply does not care when 97 boys are kidnapped at gun point. Yet this is unsurprising given that this is the same world that did not bat an eye when Boko Haram slaughtered hundreds of boys in late 2013 and early 2014. This is the same world that spent a month railing against the kidnapping of 300 Nigerian girls, but could not spare a moment’s concern for the 400 to 500 men and boys murdered by Boko Haram in June. This is the same world that completely ignored when ISIS kidnapped 186 Kurdish boys in late May.

Each time an event like this happens and those who rally around girls and women remain silent it is a damning indictment of the exclusivity of their concern. Torture, rape, human rights violations, and war crimes apparently only matter when the victims are female.

Being such, I want to pose a suggestion: the next time one of these militant groups kidnaps, tortures, rapes, or murders men and boys, let us just say the victims were female. Or perhaps call them “not women.” It will not stop the crimes from happening, but perhaps with the use of female pronouns the events will garner some attention.

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6 thoughts on “Boko Haram kidnaps 97 boys and the world remains silent

  1. No. I had not read that. However, a quick look on the news coverage shows that this information was more poorly covered than the initial kidnapping.

  2. It’s the flip side of how “people” are considered male by default, i.e. women are not considered unless especially mentioned as such. It’s how male privilege turns into its own particular kind of invisibility. In and of itself this does not make me as a woman feel bad for men, but that’s the petty side of this man-woman thing that you are unfortunately provoking with your tone. In fact, as a woman I have a son who has been a victim of gender-based disadvantage, but no girls or women have profited from it. Being cynical in your choice of words in discussing this tremendously serious and important issue of gender-based violence will only cost you your allies, namely all the women and LGBTQetc people who are also the victims of gender-based violence.

  3. It’s the flip side of how “people” are considered male by default, i.e. women are not considered unless especially mentioned as such.

    How is it the flip side? Boko Haram kidnapped almost 100 boys and used them as child soldiers and sex slaves and most media outlets and all of social media ignored it. If “people” are considered male by default and “people” are valued more than women, would not this incident have sparked greater outrage than the previous kidnapping of almost 300 girls?

    It’s how male privilege turns into its own particular kind of invisibility.

    That makes no logical sense. If males are as valued as you claim, then violence done to them would not be invisible. Compare this to a group of people with actual privilege: the wealthy. When a wealthy person goes missing, it makes the news. When a wealthy person is hurt, it makes the news. When a wealthy person has a baby, loses weight, or has a bad tan, it makes the news. This happens because of their social status. They are so privileged and important that their daily lives are things we peasants must hear about.

    The same thing does not happen with men. When men die, when they are hurt, when they suffer, we generally do not hear about it or hear about it in nebulous terms. Rarely are men the focus of concern. That is not much of a privilege.

    Being cynical in your choice of words in discussing this tremendously serious and important issue of gender-based violence will only cost you your allies, namely all the women and LGBTQetc people who are also the victims of gender-based violence.

    To be blunt, if acknowledging that violence against males is often ignored because the victims are not female costs me allies, so be it. Those are not allies I would want.

  4. Pingback: In diesem August (Monatsrückblick August 2014) – man tau

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