On the night of 14–15 April 2014, over 270 female students were abducted from their hostel at the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State in Nigeria. Some girls managed to escape but one year since the attack happened, more than 200 girls – aged between 12 and 17 when taken, are still missing.
Plan Ireland expresses its deepest solidarity with the families of the abducted girls at this very difficult time and we call again for the girls’ immediate release.
Sold into Child Marriage
Worryingly, it has been widely reported that some of the girls have been sold as child brides. Child marriage increases girls’ risk of violence, abuse, and early pregnancy. The consequences of early marriage also go beyond the lives of young married girls themselves, ultimately affecting the next generation. Children of young, uneducated mothers are less likely to have a good start to their education, do well in class, or continue beyond the minimum schooling.
Plan Ireland calls for an end to discrimination, intimidation and violence against all girls whose only wish is realise their right to an education. The targeting of schools and school girls is a grave violation of international humanitarian law. Attacks on schools deny all children the basic human right to learn in a safe environment and put them at risk of kidnapping, and in the case of girls, early and forced marriage and sex slavery.
It is estimated that between 2005 and 2012, rebel forces and groups used schools for military purposes in at least 24 countries in conflict. Schools have been converted into detention facilities, weapon depots or barracks and have also increasingly been the target of violent attacks or the focus of recruitment efforts by armed groups.
Schools must be safe sanctuaries
We urge all parties in all settings, including conflicts and warfare, to uphold children’s rights and spare and protect them from all forms of harm and violence. We call on governments to strengthen and implement appropriate national and local frameworks based on international humanitarian and human rights standards and law, and to build a culture of safety, resilience and non-violence throughout the education sector to prevent risk of harm or injury including kidnapping.
Children must never be targeted. Only by shielding them from harm and enabling them to realise their full potential can we ensure a better future for all.