Since hearing the news of the Nigerian school girls’ abduction, the daily routine of picking up my daughter from school has become an activity done with a little more appreciation and thankfulness. Granted this happened thousands of miles away and (a bit relieved) that it did not happen in our backyard but it could very well have been. Nevertheless, I am grateful for my child’s safety.
I imagine the torturing emotions that the girls’ mothers are going through. The sheer anguish of knowing that the child you sent to school was taken away and finding out later the reason why she was taken.
The indignation and the rage they must be feeling.
This is a reality that many mothers in the North Eastern region of Nigeria are facing- the torture of having not just one but hundreds of girls carted away without warning.
Hundreds of girls were abducted from their dormitory in the middle of the night. Reason? Because their captors say they shouldn’t be getting an education. The perpetrators? A terrorist group that notoriously calls itself “Boko Haram” which means Western Education is evil. This group opposes educating girls and despises Western culture. They threaten to sell their victims into forced marriages, referring to their captives as “slaves.”
This unjustifiable act sent shock waves to the core of the West African country and the global community alike calling for action in recovering the stolen girls.
Fondly referred to as “the Giant of Africa”, Nigeria has been rampaged by vicious attacks by this terrorist group in recent years. Episodes of massive bombings and killings have gripped this country, leaving its citizens paralyzed with fear, wondering when the next attack will occur.
These are perilous times. Perilous times indeed. A time when looking over your shoulder is the norm, the act of being overtly aware of your environment, a way of life. A time when children go to school with fear of being attacked or killed. This is a scenario for countless people in Nigeria.
No one should have to live like this.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently summarizes this situation: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”- doing nothing or little will only embolden and encourage such horrific actions to occur not just in Nigeria but everywhere. How we react in this situation will help to determine the fate of these kidnapped girls and countless others who may find themselves in similar situations in future.
Everyone is affected by this.
These problems are further compounded by the unavailability of social services, services that are lacking in developing countries and taken for granted in more privileged societies. Amenities that distressed families reeling from the effects of this ordeal can benefit from. Something needs to be done to recover these girls and support provided to assist these hurting individuals and families.
There is need to act, to safeguard and protect the right of everyone to receive an education without fear of reprisal. A right reserved for every human being. We have an obligation to ensure this never happens again. As social workers we are encoded to be flag bearers who carry the torch for social justice, and have the responsibility of keeping the torch blazing and bright, bright enough to instill and inspire hope for a better tomorrow.
We all can do something.
Hopefully the girls will be returned safely but no matter the conclusion, these girls will always be remembered and unwittingly envisioned in history alongside Malala Yousafzai (a teenage girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting women’s education) as symbols for female education.
The abduction took weeks to generate a response but when it did, produced a response of such magnitude that it could be heard across the world. “Bring back our girls!” protestors’ chant, tweeting across the globe, initiating a worldwide campaign. A chant that resonates to the very core of our social conscious.
Let us join the voices around the globe in a universal chant: “Bring back our girls!” and help rewrite an ending to a story that began so tragically.
Please, join any organization you are comfortable with that is promoting help in bringing these girls home and help to advocate and support this cause any way you can. Thanks for your help.
Photo credits: Chioma Eke
Written by Ngozi I. Eke-MSW Candidate, University of Michigan
Contact: Ngozi_eke@yahoo.com; Niek@umich.edu