On April 14th in Nigeria, nearly 300 teenage girls from various schools in Nigeria were abducted by Islamic extremists, from where they had gathered to sit a physics exam. Loaded onto busses like cattle, they were driven away to where their captors have been said to be selling them into marriage (equivalent to $12 in US money), or smuggling them over the boarders into Chad, for purposes we probably don’t like to think about. Boko Haram (meaning ‘Western education is sinful’) has been said to be who the terrorists are linked to, according to some of the luckier girls who have managed to escape from their captors. Close to 50 have managed to get away, but there are over 250 who are still missing. Young children who are nothing but chattel to this hardened band of militia, taking out their lack of control on their own world, on terrified innocents.
And the rest of the world is barely batting an eye to their plight.
If these girls were stolen from a school in London, or Texas, the world would be outraged. There would be 24 hour media coverage and politicians and law enforcement agencies alike, would be moving heaven and earth to both find the girls, and bring the kidnappers to justice.
This is about race, and religion, colour and creed. To the media, to the masses, blonde white, middle class girls, are given much more worth than young black girls, sold into slavery, and abusive lives with men, probably twice, three times their age, the bright futures that lay ahead of them stolen and destroyed by short sighted, evil men, scared of the power an educated woman might wield.
And they’re getting away with it, because the world is allowing it.
India, Nigeria, Singapore, Thailand, Russia, Pakistan, etc. are all places you associate with these sort of crimes, yet every day, some young girl or boy, a desperate immigrant, or other vulnerable person is being forced into unpaid labour, sexual or otherwise, at the hands of organised crime gangs, pimps and unscrupulous business owners; and it’s happening closer to home than you think.
October 18th is Anti Slavery Day in the UK. Raising awareness of the Sex Slavery seems like such an otherworldly term, outdated and certainly irrelevant to most modern females in the West, but it is, in fact, a modern epidemic, where men, women and children are falling through the cracks on a daily basis.
And Soon the Darkness is about two young girls on a cycling holiday who, breaking away from their tour group fall foul of their own stupidity, and someone else’s opportunism. After separating after an argument, one of the girls is taken. The other, left stranded in a foreign country, barely speaking the language, and unsure of whom to trust, must unravel the mystery her friend leaves behind.
The original film was a British chiller, set in rural France, while the remake was set in Argentina. Both are rather pedestrian considering the subject matter, though surprisingly, the remake is slightly less anaemic than its predecessor, in both depth of plot and the relationship between characters.
The idea behind both films is indeed a scary concept; lost and scared in a place where merely trying to communicate with the people around you is a Herculean task. A victim among alien customs and values, in an unfamiliar landscape, is a fear that we can all identify with.
The 1970 version is very two dimensional, the women silly and naïve, and a plot that leaves much to be desired, lacking any sense of background and barely humanising the characters enough for the viewer to care what happens either way. It’s quite plodding and slow, rather than atmospheric or foreboding, and the pay off is a disappointing relief rather than the electrifying twist intended.
The remake is a little more lively, the main protagonist, a little more savvy and therefore likeable, and it has been updated to fit the times. The fact it touches upon people smuggling and modern day slavery, making it seem more immediate and definitely easier to relate to. There is more depth to the characters, and certainly helped by a faster pace, I found it infinitely superior to the original film; not something I can say very often.
I will say this though, I feel like films like this would be much less popular, if set in a Delhi slum, or the story of these teenage captives was brought to the big screen, due to the fact that the racism so ingrained in popular culture. Society does not credit the masses with having the power to empathise with anyone outside of Hollywood’s Aryan ideals of beauty, and this is why stories such as those occurring in Nigeria, are fading away without the international outcry it deserves.
Human life is not weighed by location, religion, race, or money, and the idea that one person can own another, has no place in contemporary society. If someone is in trouble, it is society’s duty to help them, no matter where they were born, or what skin they live in.
Hopefully these girls will be found and returned to their loved ones, but the cynic in me feels that the resolution to this situation will be far more heartbreaking; because even one person’s future lost, is truly a tragedy.