Could there be anything more offensive to feminists than the use of young girls as suicide bombers? I doubt it. And I imagine that’s exactly why the militant Islamist group Boko Haram has adopted it as the latest technique in its campaign to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state.
In April last year, when Boko Haram militants captured a group of 276 schoolgirls, a number of high-profile women joined an online campaign to #BringBackOurGirls. Have they been brought back? No. Around 200 still remain in captivity. Horrific stories have since emerged from the few who managed to escape that the captured girls have been subjected to rape, abuse, physical torture and forced marriage.
And now this – girls as young as ten turned into human bombs, unwittingly or otherwise. It seems they are being used because nobody expects it. But I bet Boko Haram’s militants are also doing it to prove a point – under their watch, these girls aren’t going to be empowered anytime soon, and it will take more than a hashtag scribbled on a piece of paper to change things. The self-righteous diplomatic message, held up by the likes of Michelle Obama and Cara Delevingne, may have stoked Boko Haram’s misogyny and put young Nigerian girls in even more danger than before.