Overcoming Ordinary Terror

It's been a month since more than 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their school by the militant group Boko Haram. The world has since been watching in horror as news of the abduction has come out, first in trickles and now torrents.

Many of us have experienced a similar set of reactions: We feel helpless, as we wish there were something, anything, we could do personally to stop this violent terrorist group from terrorizing these girls.

We feel anguished, as the girls' reeling parents share their intimate shock, grief and horror on an international stage.

And we feel angry as we ask, "How can something like this happen? What kind of world is this?"

But, as I have prayed to God for his help for these girls and their families, I actually have found a lot of hope -- hope that Nigeria and the international community will succeed in bringing these girls home. A significant reason for this hope is the inspiring reality that ordinary people all around the world have paid attention, lifted their voices, applied pressure and haven't let up.

So please let me encourage you not to give up. Please keep raising your voice on behalf of these girls victimized by terrorist violence.

And, as we do so together, let us also remember millions of other girls who today are threatened by another kind of violence -- what we at International Justice Mission have come to call "everyday violence."

For most of the world's poor, the greatest daily threat isn't an armed rebel group like Boko Haram that will require a specialized military response. Rather, it is acts of daily terror committed against them by more powerful neighbors -- neighbors who act with impunity simply because the most basic laws are not enforced.

According to the U.N., there are a stunning 4 billion people in our world who live in communities where they are not protected by the law -- that is, they live in communities where justice systems don't function effectively enough to provide any reasonable assurance that they will be shielded from violent people. For these neighbors, the greatest, most urgent threat is common criminal violence.

The scale of this "everyday" violence is massive. One in five women will be a victim of sexual violence. Nearly 2 million children will be exploited in the commercial sex industry. Nearly 30 million people are held as slaves.

The knowledge that this everyday violence is a daily threat for millions does not in any way diminish the suffering of these kidnapped Nigerian girls and their families, nor can it erode the urgency with which we fight for their return, and for their perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Today, we must keep praying for these girls. We must continue to ask that our leaders exert their influence to help secure for the girls a safe and swift return home. We must keep the pressure on to ensure this story stays a global priority.

And we must also confront the reality that, if our poorest neighbors ever are to fully thrive, it's time to address the issue of violence against the poor in a sustainable way. Add your name to this petition, asking the United Nations to make addressing the issue of violence - both armed terrorist violence and the massive plague of everyday violence - a serious priority as it revisits the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

For these girls, and for their millions of sisters and brothers who will live today in a nightmare of common criminal violence, it is time to demand a future free of ordinary terror.