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Nigeria: Statement read at the May 13 Paris rally in support to kidnapped Nigerian school girls

Tuesday 13 May 2014, by siawi3

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Source: siawi
May 23, 2014

It is now over 4 weeks since over 300 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok by Boko Haram. Since then it has been reported that some have died, many have been raped, forced into ’marriage’ with the kidnappers, or trafficked into slavery. Boko Haram is a political organisation using religious pretexts and terrorism - it has never been Muslims versus Christians, as was so often reported, but attacks on all those (whether Muslim, Christian or other) who reject Boko Haram’s desire for an repressive, oppressive society. This year alone, even before Chibok, Boko Haram have killed 1,000s of civilians (including schoolboys burnt to death), abducted many schoolgirls, attacked schools, bombed bus stops. It is unconscionable that it took the mobilisation of national and international protest by Nigerian women and human rights activists before the Nigerian federal government began to take action. It is outrageous that, even now, the security forces are deployed to prevent solidarity protests and rallies (as in Kaduna and Abuja) rather than to defend citizens from attack, as in Gamboru a few days ago, where 100s more people were killed.

Thank you to all those who have shown solidarity for the girls abducted. Please continue to support the girls, their families and the women’s rights activists pressure for action to bring the girls home safely, provide them with medical care, post-trauma support, and other services as necessary, in the short to medium term.

For the long-term, it is imperative for Nigeria’s citizens to secure a non-religious state where all girls and boys can access quality education and develop their potential in safety, and, where neither religion nor custom are used as excuses to restrict girls’ chances and choices, force them into marriage, or condone child marriage.

Ayesha Imam.
Nigerian Women’s Rights Activist.