Nigeria not the only place action is needed

Most of us can’t imagine going to school with the fear we may be kidnapped by religious zealots. Parents may fear their child being bullied, or not scoring well on a test, or acting out in class. Maybe their kid cuts class to smoke a joint with some friends somewhere out of sight of the administration.

But we don’t worry about a terrorist group rounding them up and spiriting them off. We don’t worry that today they will be forced to convert to some extremist version of Islam and possibly marry one of their captors. We are free of the fear that they will be sold across a national border into sexual slavery.

In Canada women and girls are expected to go to school and educate themselves.

There is no suggestion that it is somehow against what God wants, or that women shouldn’t be allowed to exercise their brains.

The world, including Canadians, is quite rightly demanding action to resolve the kidnapping of more than 200 school girls in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram, who have committed most of the acts above, and are threatening to carry out the rest.

We don’t have to worry about this kind of backwards insanity, which really has no place in this world.

But even today, even in Canada, women still struggle for equality and to be free of gender violence.

Women are still often paid less than men for doing the same job.

Domestic violence numbers, still mostly men committing acts of violence against women, tell a woeful tale.

Hundreds of missing and murdered women had their cases largely ignored for years.

Some were simply hitchhiking. Others had “vanished” down the rabbit hole into the world of drugs, prostitution and poverty, even before they officially disappeared.

It took years for the demands for action to bear any fruit.

It is well-documented that most women who end up in the cycle of drugs, prostitution and poverty do so because they’ve already suffered abuse as children and adolescents, often at the hands of people they were supposed to be able to trust.

They take drugs to forget or at least cope with the pain and the memories, and pay for them the way they can.

This, too, is a life of fear and desperation, right here in Canada.

Fortunately, we don’t have wellarmed militant extremist loons willing to declare their antiwomen madness to the world. But there are attitudes that persist, some buried deep, that need to be changed.

Just as we demand action on the horrific crime committed in Nigeria, so must we demand action within our communities, our provinces and our country to address our home-grown issues.

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