Abducted Schoolgirls in NigeriaPublished on 14 May 2014 Hansard and Statements by Senator Catherine Callbeck (retired)
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck:
Honourable senators, today I want to raise my voice to condemn in the strongest possible terms the militant group Boko Haram for its horrific abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria. One cannot imagine the terror these innocent girls are experiencing and the agony of their parents, families and friends. This brutal act has rightly brought international condemnation of this terrorist Islamic organization.
Nearly a month has passed since this crisis of tragic proportions began. We all hope and pray it will be brought to a quick and satisfactory conclusion.
What is more, these abductions strike at the fundamental right of a girl to an education. Although the right to an education for a girl is one that is taken for granted in many parts of the world, it is the reason for which these girls have been terrified. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of extremist Islamic groups that object to this right.
In many countries, particularly poorer ones, education makes a major difference in the lives of women and girls. The World Bank has estimated that an extra year in primary school increases a girl’s eventual wage by some 20 per cent. Education enables women to provide better health care and education for their children, participate in the labour market and have a stronger voice in society overall.
I applaud those countries that have provided resources to help the Nigerian government deal with this crisis. The first priority should be to rescue these girls and bring their abductors to justice.
For more than a decade, Boko Haram has caused havoc throughout Nigeria. It has done so through waves of bombings, mass attacks on villages, burnings, killings, assassinations, attacks on police stations, government buildings, and shootouts. All this is in support of its primary efforts to overthrow the Nigerian government and establish a strict Islamic state.
Up until now, most of these atrocities were regarded as part of a local struggle. Now, with these abductions, it has attracted international attention and condemnation. No longer can nations of the world ignore its lethal and extremist agenda. They must help to end the scope and scale of the brutality and devastation that has inflicted havoc on the Nigerian people.
Honourable senators, the world must send a clear message that situations such as this are never to be tolerated and must never happen again.