There’s an imaginary War on Women that exists only in the minds of Democratic politicians trying to scare voters and score political points. And then there’s the real War on Women.
The former is misleading, tiresome, and over-covered by the media. The latter is real-life, tragic, and rarely receives media attention.
This dynamic was interrupted in recent weeks with the abduction of 276 Nigerian school girls by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, which made the front pages and nightly news.
Concerned Women for America and its 500,000 members join others — including the 20 female senators and 79 female representatives who wrote letters urging President Obama to take action — in outrage over this atrocity.
While we join in the bipartisan condemnation of this kidnapping and efforts to raise awareness about the girls, tweets of disapproval are never a substitute for a serious foreign-policy strategy.
That means the hashtag-created awareness needs to transition to a larger discussion about the rise of jihadists who use violence and abuse of women and children to perpetuate a radical ideology.
Why were those girls abducted in the first place? Boko Haram wants to create a sharia-law state, which teaches that educating women is sinful and capturing women and children in the name of jihad is justified.
The majority of the abducted girls were believed to be Christians, another reason why they were targeted. Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, claimed in a video released last week that the girls have converted to Islam, showing about half of them dressed in black and gray hijabs, reciting the Koran, and praying to Allah.
Now the girls face a life of forced labor or sex slavery. CNN quoted Shekau as saying, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah.” He went on to say, “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
In 2012, I, Representative Bachmann, wrote a letter to Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan raising concerns about Boko Haram’s terrorist activities. The letter pointed out that Boko Haram had killed 510 people in 2011 and was growing more sophisticated in their attacks. The group’s attacks have since escalated even further, bringing the number of those killed thus far in 2014 to more than 1,500 people.
Sadly, the case of the kidnapped Nigerian school girls is far from an isolated example around the world. The degradation of women’s rights is central to the jihadist’s ideology. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote, “nothing is more anathema to the jihadists than equal and educated women.”
Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl who advocated for girls’ education, barely survived a shot to the head by the Taliban while riding home in a school bus.
A 27-year-old, eight-months pregnant Sudanese woman, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, was sentenced to death by hanging last week because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.
The list of senseless tragedies could go on. Countless young women are raped, tortured, forced into sex trafficking, and even sentenced to death. These are real problems on a global scale. And this resurgence of jihadist actions to strictly enforce sharia law must not be accepted by civil societies. It must be defeated.
Girls should not have to worry about being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves.
Girls should not have to worry about being shot at as they ride the bus to school.
Women should not have to worry about being sentenced to death for practicing their faith.
That’s just a glimpse of the real War on Women, and it’s happening every day across the globe, whether or not it ends up on the nightly news. And to win, it’s time for a serious strategy.
— Michele Bachmann is a Minnesota representative and a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Penny Nance is CEO and president of Concerned Women for America.