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Inspiring social media movement supports teen assault victim

The nightmarish sexual assault of 16-year-old Jada went viral when her attackers posted images of the crime online. Unbelievably, trolls then gleefully created a sick social media hashtag #JADAPOSE to mock Jada and the incident. And as these things often do, the images took on a digital life of their own. Now her supporters are using social media to fight back by posting messages of strength and solidarity tagged with #IAMJADA.

The movement started with her appearance this week on MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow Daily where she bravely told her horrific story of being drugged and assaulted, and she posed for a photo next to a whiteboard with #IAMJADA written on it. As the cameras rolled, the tiny girl recounted the horrifying details surrounding the assault.

“I went home and realized my underwear was on backwards,” she said. “And I had a bruise on my eye. I asked what happened, and everyone told me ‘don’t worry about it.'”

When Jada asked the boy why he posted the image online, he told her he just wanted more followers. And it worked. The image, according to Jada’s interview, was re-tweeted many, many times.

Jada’s bravery in the face of this kind of humiliation and violence has sparked the latest social media movement in support of women’s rights. #IAMJADA, #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS, #YESALLWOMEN and the like have become a way for people to express their collective outrage and fight back against injustice all over the world. #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS has gained such traction as a social movement, the girls’ captor, Boko Haram, even put out a video mocking the hashtag.

Social media movements like these certainly have their fair share of critics. What can a silly hashtag do in the face of unimaginable injustice? But social media, even with its character constraints and limited foundation in reality, can provide a sense of common ground. Just as #YESALLWOMEN started some intelligent conversations about the impact of the patriarchy on women’s everyday lives, #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS has gotten the attention of the world’s most powerful and influential people, including First Lady Michelle Obama.

These posts, and conversations, also serve to let women, who so often are ashamed of being victimized, stand together and refuse to be humiliated for being a victim of a crime. It breaks through the silence.

Show your support for Jada with a post of your own message or image tagged with #IAMJADA. It’s a way for all of us to stand up for this little girl and show her attackers and those who mock her pain that we’re all watching, and no one is impressed. A crime against any of our girls is a crime against every one of us. #IAMJADA and so are you.

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