OPINION - Where is all the mass feminist rage when Black women go missing?

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Last week, I shared a poster of a missing Black girl called Samaria Ayanle on my Instagram. The next morning someone told me she’d been found dead. It’s tragic but I didn’t think much more of it. Then I saw the news. It turns out she’d been dead for three weeks. The questions began. Why did I find out about this so late? And if she was missing for three weeks, why didn’t more people share the information online?

Ayanle was studying at a London university. When she went missing, six of her friends created an Instagram page called ‘@haveyouseensamaria’ after getting increasingly worried following her disappearance. I saw her missing persons poster on an Instagram page made specifically for missing Black people, which was shared by a Black friend of mine.

The whole situation brought back memories from 2021. Two days after Sarah Everard disappeared, my whole timeline was filled with photos of her. When news of her kidnap and murder came to light, I saw women of all backgrounds unite in solidarity. Her death was a wake-up call. It was relatable. She was a Londoner, walking home at 8pm; it could have been any of us.

And yet when a South Asian girl called Sabina Nessa went missing just months later, I was horrified by the lack of interest. Police were asking the public for help during the search as she, too, was taken and murdered while walking alone in London. It felt like no one cared. Why was she given less attention? Was she less relatable to the nation because of her skin colour?

Thousands of angry grieving women had gathered for Sarah Everard’s vigil. They stood for hours demanding justice. Some were even arrested for protesting amid lockdown. I remember witnessing the immense bubbling female rage around me. There were news stories, social media posts and fiery conversations about women’s safety going around. So, just months after Everard’s death I wondered where that powerful feminism went. Where was the same energy and outrage? Can you even call it feminism if it excludes women of colour?

As an Indian girl, I was filled with anger. It started to feel personal — is someone who looks like me less worthy? — and so I took matters into my own hands. I gathered as much information as I could on Nessa and then posted everything on my Instagram page, urging people to pay attention. I became vocal about the societal double standards I’d seen around her disappearance and used every platform I could to get the message across. The post quickly spread through the Black and Asian communities before going fully viral and getting picked up by the mainstream media. I was later told that my work had aided in her case being solved. I couldn’t believe it. I was proud of the work I’d done, but I still questioned why it took so long for Nessa’s tragedy to gain traction.

If it weren’t for the support of these minority communities, the message wouldn’t have got out. Luckily they, too, saw the injustice and could relate. Since then, there have been plenty more similar cases and there has been a disappointing pattern when it comes to support for missing POC. If past events have taught us anything, it’s that we still have a long way to go to achieve equality in treatment for missing people. In the meantime, we should recognise that it is everyone’s job to speak up, and not just those from minority backgrounds. And remember to share any important information you see online. It doesn’t cost a thing and it could save someone’s life.