Huff Post: I remember the first time I met a young Muslim woman who had been beaten by her father for refusing to marry a man from their country of origin. I was 19 at the time and an undergrad at New York University.
I also distinctly remember a series of other first time interactions: the first time I met a Muslim woman who had been raped; a Muslim woman who had been molested; a Muslim woman who had been told her only purpose in life was to please her husband; a Muslim woman who could find no one to help her break out of an abusive marriage; a Muslim woman who was completely confident that whoever she married would end up cheating on her; and many more. I also remember every other woman who over the years has told me about similar life experiences that they have had. All of them come to mind as I try to digest what is currently taking place in Nigeria and the over 200 women that were recently abducted there and have started to be trafficked.
The perpetrators of this crime are the Boko Haram, a movement that has existed for quite some time in Nigeria. They espouse a perversely skewed interpretation of Islam that I personally believe carries no legitimacy and is far removed from any Islam that I or the majority of Muslims practice. The unfortunate reality is my condemnation on its own can do nothing other than distance me from them. It by itself is not helpful to the victims of the Boko Haram’s crimes. This group has taken the lives of thousands of innocent people and seemingly have a focus on targeting schools, including those that young men attend as well. The issue is much bigger than most of us might realize, given the lack of response I’ve seen from both the Muslim and broader communities.