Nigerians demand justice after 300 girls ranging between the ages of 16 and 18 were kidnapped from a Secondary Girl School in Chibok.
Nigerians demand justice after 300 girls ranging between the ages of 16 and 18 were kidnapped from a Secondary Girl School in Chibok.

On April 15, 2014, armed terrorists took hundreds of Nigerian girls from their families. A normal day at school too quickly turned into a mass abduction. The Nigerian soldiers handled the young girls like objects, much like the latter part of the Nigerian Civil War, selling them for the demoralizing price of $12 each to serve as sex slaves. The young girls were nowhere to be found. Worried parents hiked for days trying to recover the lives they were living only a few days before. In Nigeria, education is a delicacy. These girls go to school every day knowing there is a possibility of something bad happening and being fearless in order to fight for the education they all deserve.  Armed forces in Nigeria do not think girls are worthy of education and choose to use their powers to make sure they are a readily available sex object. Many schools have been burned down over the past couple years as Nigerian cities struggle to offer education. The history of human trafficking goes back to the years of the Nigerian Civil War where women were being sold and traded as sex objects. The idea of sex slaves is still alive today as women are being sold as sex slaves throughout Nigeria daily, as the schoolgirls mentioned earlier were just abducted back in April of this year. In addition, Nigeria has been struggling to allow girls to attend school since 20 years before the Civil War, and since then has not developed any sort of education system that works.

Over the past 67 years, Nigeria has struggled to maintain an education system for boys and girls of all ages and continues to do so today. In the article “Education in Nigeria,” William Nevill M. Geary writes about the education system in Nigeria during 1944. During that time, many English people were torn between supporting education in Nigeria and only allowing Nigerians to serve as slaves to the English advantage. Some thought that if they provided education for Nigerians by sending them to England to get a free education, in return they would become better at things the white people did and the English would not have to pay as much or anything at all for there services. Geary, a white upper class man was in favor of offering the Nigerians, who strived to obtain any sort of education, a way of getting it. Without even knowing it, he was trying to pave a way of education in Nigeria for years to come but since his ideas were shut down, there still isn’t a strong education system in Nigeria today.

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Mothers and relatives of kidnapped schoolgirls in northern Nigeria gathered last month.

Michael Gould and Frederick Forsyth summarize the Nigerian Civil War (or Biafran War) of 1967-1970. The first three chapters illustrate what started the war and what occurred during the first year. In chapter four, they mention the abuse done to Ibo women and children during the second half of the war (mid 1978-1970). While soldiers were fighting, children were being left malnourished and women were being used for sexual favors.The lack of education in Nigeria has been the primary reason rape and molestation have been inflicted on females of all ages. In order to keep a sustained economy in Biafran, the fighting would seize at dusk and markets would open for trade. Unfortunately, federal troops not only demanded food and drink, but also local women (Gould and Forsyth, 83). Women were being treated poorly during the war, not just the years following.Gould proceeds to inform the massive rape outbreak that occurred at the end of the war. While the boys that were older and taller were singled out and shot, women were being gathered into large groups and raped (Gould and Forsyth, 85-86). The superiority of the Federal troops set up an unfortunate lifestyle; if you were a woman at the end of the war, you’d be likely to be raped or killed, if you did not have the qualities the soldiers favored, you would also be killed. Women and children were helpless in this situation and even ashamed for what was happening to them. In chapter five, the Federal Nigerian troops massacred more than 2,000 women and children (Gould and Forsyth, 144). This issue correlates with the contemporary problem”Bring Back Our Girls.” Nigerian soldiers have not come very far since the Civil War; they still believe women and girls should not have the right to an education and that they should be sold as sex slaves instead.

On Tuesday, May 30, 1944, 20 years before the Nigerian Civil War, William Nevill M. Geary wrote “Education in Nigeria” in the Times. Despite the feelings that most upper class white people felt toward blacks during the time, Geary boldly wrote a letter to the editor  in response to a previous article about the education system in Nigeria as well as to the upper class of England. The truth was that Nigeria wasn’t teaching its children as it should, but higher education is too costly to the black people. Geary believes Nigerian people should be provided with schooling because they are as capable as, and sometimes even more capable than the English people. (Geary) Educating the Nigerian people as far as high school and beyond will be benefiting both sides, providing jobs for the Nigerians as well as workers for the English people. During 1944, many English people were torn between supporting the education of black people and only wanting them as slaves and servants. Although Geary  is an English man with a black cook, he seemingly is in favor of education for the blacks when many people of this time still were not. Geary is of higher class, and he is trying to persuade the other people in the same class as him to look into his suggestions. This took place approximately 20 years before the Nigerian Civil War, and even then, people did not believe that primary, secondary, or higher education were important to those in the Nigerian society. The only way the Nigerian people could get any sort of education above primary schooling was by being wealthy, and clearly most of them were not wealthy people. Geary favored toward the Nigerians that desired higher education by suggesting it being offered to them for free through English schools. Geary believes that education should be offered to Nigerians of all ages, and yet, even in 2014, 70 years later, Nigeria is still struggling to set up an education system.While Geary was in favor of offering free education, a man named Fitzpatrick thought that Nigerians should be stripped until they were naked and be brutally mistreated.

On November 8, 1919, 25 years before Geary’s article, a court hearing of Fitzpatrick v. Barber and others was published in a news article. Fitzpatrick was being charged for flogging black women. During this time, British officials in Nigeria didn’t take action in order to stop the flogging of black men and women and they did not find it to be an issue. Fitzpatrick said that, “The only way to tame and subjugate the African men and women was to flog them.” Fitzpatrick set himself up to do one thing-portray the harshness white people inflicted on Nigerians. Fitzpatrick treated them as foreign objects that shouldn’t be allowed in his country. Fitzpatrick unknowingly set up a mindset that whites would subtly change over the following years which led to the belief that Nigerians and other blacks maybe should no longer be flogged, but instead they should not be offered an education. This situation is showing the same prejudice toward the Nigerian people especially when they are harmed for pursuing education.

 

Human Trafficking Statistics
Human Trafficking Statistics

In the African Journal of Reproductive Health, a random sample survey was taken in many schools throughout the Nigerian schools in the states of Delta and Edo to figure out the facts about trafficking throughout elementary girls and boys. Francisca Isi Omorodion mentions that many people get trafficked against their own will because a lot of them are likely to trust or know the trafficker. “Four million people are smuggled into foreign countries each year, generating up to $7 billion annually in illicit profits from criminal syndicates” (Omorodion 34). “Of the victims of trafficking worldwide, Nigeria alone accounts for about 13 percent . In addition, of the 2,000 women trafficked to Italy, about 60% are Nigerians”.(Omorodion 34).Omorodion identifies the reality of trafficking in Nigeria and breaks it down in to specific categories. In order to prevent human trafficking there’s not much we can do. However, we can educate children and parents on the severeness of the act in hopes of adults offering better protection. Nigerians struggle to educate their children at a young age since education is such a foreign concept to them. If Nigeria can find a way, possibly with the help of other countries, to adapt a good education system, I believe that trafficking will be eliminated.

 In addition to the issues with education in Nigeria, Bakare Kabirat Abiodun gives background on the educational system in Nigeria today and how if it is not changed, it may never get better. “Nigeria houses 37% of the out-of-school children-As a result of this, most Nigerian children who should be in school are not.” This is a huge problem because a lot of kids know that whether they go to school or not, they won’t be promised employment. A lot of girls drop out, just as stated earlier, because a lot of people are opposed to providing education for girls. In addition, poverty plays a huge role in which kids are able to attend elementary school. Abiodun believes that in order to solve this problem, education should be offered for free, which was supported by Geary’s article over 20 years before this article was written and yet nothing has changed. Abiodun not only believes that education should be free to Nigeria students, but also that the teachers should no longer be neglected and start getting paid. The education system in Nigeria needs to properly be funded in order for education to be offered at its highest potential.

Students at a Nigerian Girls School
Students at a Nigerian School

It is highly evident that the elimination of human trafficking can only be accomplished by proper schooling. Since the Nigerian government is opposed to offering education to adolescents of all ages, especially girls, Nigeria cannot move forward against the trafficking that has occurred for decades and will continue to occur unless something is changed. All of these kids strive to do their best in school and want to succeed, but they know that is not a probable outcome based on their surroundings. The young teens in Chibok fought for their education knowing that something bad could happen every single day, and on April 15, 2014, their small school was abducted. A common theme keeps repeating; articles written about strengthening the Nigerian education system in order to benefit everyone. Although the power of the written word is strong, nothing will happen if action isn’t taken. Someone needs to step up to break the cycle of kids aching for education, lacking education, being punished for trying to achieve education, and being trafficked.

 

 

Illustrations

Reuters, 7 May 2014, http://silverwings777.wordpress.com/tag/nigeria, Web. 27 Aug. 2014.

Reuters, 3 May 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/opinion/sunday/kristof-bring-back-our-girls.html?_r=1, Web. 7 Sept. 2014.

UNODC, 12 Dec 2012, http://migrantsatsea.org/tag/human-trafficking/ Web. 5 Oct. 2014

4 April 2013, http://nynah911.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/mdgs-nigeria-goofs-on-quality-education/ Web. 2 Dec. 2014

Works Cited

Abiodun, Bakare Kabirat. “Low Level of Education in Nigeria: Causes and Solution.” Information Nigeria. 14 Nov. 2013. Accessed 16 Nov. 2014.

“Flogging Of Black Woman.” Times [London, England] 8 Nov. 1919: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Accessed 16 Nov. 2014.

Geary,William Nevill M.   “Education In Nigeria.” Times [London, England] 30 May 1944: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Accessed 26 Oct. 2014.

Gould, Michael and Frederick Forsyth. Struggle for Modern Nigeria: The Biafran War 1967-1970, London: I.B. Tauris, 2011.

Kristof, Nicholas. “Bring Back Our Girls.” The New York Times, 3 May 2014. Accessed 7 Sept. 2014.       http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/opinion/sunday/kristof-bring-back-our-girls.html?_r=1.

Omorodion, Fransisca Isi. “Vulnerability of Nigerian Secondary School to Human Sex Trafficking in Nigeria.” African Journal of Reproductive Health Vol. 13, No. 2 (Jun., 2009), pp. 33-48. Accessed 29 Sept.  2014.