Note: this is an updated post with corrected information regarding Boko Haram. In my previous post (now deleted) I referred to Haram as an individual, rather than an entity.
Brightly dressed women waving placards contrast with somberly clad kidnap victims in a tableau of fear and coercion. The news and social media are buzzing with demands to return the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.
Once again, to right to education for girls all over the world is a hot topic.
But I see a fundamental problem here in our western emphasis of trying to correct the problem. Absolutely girls need to be educated, but I think the focus need to be re-directed, at least for the time being.
In societies where women are not treated humanely and in circles where kidnapping young women is acceptable, it is the MEN who need to be educated and taught why having an educated wife is a good thing for a household, for society and the economy.
Why wouldn’t a man want an intelligent life partner? Even if, in his mind, a woman’s sole destiny was to be a wife and mother, wouldn’t he want a woman at his side who can read instructions, who knows how to get the best yield from a garden and how to look after a sick child? How about someone who can count, add and subtract enough to get the best deal at the market or run a business enterprise to help feed the family? Even better, how about someone who can carry on an intelligent conversation and use their knowledge to help others?
A woman is more than just an object to warm a bed and bear offspring. She is more than a slave to man’s needs and desires. She is not just property, she is a human being, created in the image of God and worthy of love and honour. She was created to live freely and give her love to one whom she chooses. Societies that recognize this reap the rewards. Men, you will benefit when women are educated and given choices.
Either the men in Boko Haram are incorrigible, or they just don’t know any better. While there are verses in the Quran which seem to indicate a number of disturbing ideas about the status of females, even it states that men should be kind to women and not inherit them by compulsion. (Surat An-Nisa 4:19). That would rule out kidnapping.
Could it be that it’s the gun-slinging kidnappers that need education? Young boys need to be taught humane treatment of their mothers, sisters and future wives, before they are exposed to terrorist ideology and machine-guns. Only when men in power use their influence to extend rights and show kindness to women will things really change.