Pelosi Floor Speech Condemning the Abduction of Female Students in Nigeria

May 20, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in support of H.Res. 573 – condemning the abduction of female students by armed militants from the terrorist group known as Boko Haram.  Leader Pelosi denounced the despicable acts of Boko Haram and called for the safe return of these innocent girls and young women to their families.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him, Mr. Royce, my colleague from California – the Chairman of the Committee – Mr. Smith, and others who have brought this resolution to the floor.  I'm especially proud of the work of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson for her work on the resolution before the House to condemn the abduction of female students by armed militants.  Thank you, Congresswoman Wilson.

“We have been fortunate to have the leadership of our Congressional Black Caucus, led by Congresswoman Fudge.  I see on the floor right now Congressman Keith Ellison and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, among others who have come and gone in the course of the debate.  We have called the Congressional Black Caucus the ‘conscience of the Congress,’ helping to rally our nation to the cause of these abducted girls and working to address the broader threat to women and girls around the world.

“I associate myself with some of the remarks of my colleague, Mr. Smith, about the fact that so many bills today on the floor address the human trafficking, the trafficking of children that passed earlier.  Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was very much part of that.

“I rise this evening, Mr. Speaker, in support of the resolution introduced by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and to stand in solidarity with the young Nigerian girls who are still being held in captivity by Boko Haram.  Their kidnapping is an act outside the circle of human behavior.  It is a despicable and abhorrent crime that cries out for justice.

“Nor is this the first time that Boko Haram have attacked young Nigerian students.  They have murdered dozens of young boys, shooting and burning them, more than 50 of them, to death in their boarding school.  Their assault on this community’s human rights is an affront to the human rights of men, women and children everywhere.

“I think it is really important to note, Mr. Speaker, that we have a moral responsibility to help – certainly to find and rescue these girls.  We must not and will not rest until we #BringBackOurGirls.  But when we bring them back, we have to bring them back without the taboo – without the stigma that they had been kidnapped, and assumptions made about their treatment, whatever that has been.  I know that their families want to welcome them back with open arms, and we have to be a party to that.

“The worst thing, the most cruel form of torture for someone who has been kidnapped – as Mr. Smith knows as a champion of human rights throughout the world – is to tell those who were kidnapped or abducted or imprisoned that nobody cares about them anymore, and that nobody knows that they are kidnapped, and nobody cares about them anymore – and in this case of these young girls, to also say: ‘Because you have been kidnapped, and certain assumptions have been made about your treatment, you will no longer be welcomed home, even if you were freed.’  That's vicious.  That's vicious, and I know a view not shared by the family of these girls – that should not be shared by anyone.

“As the resolution states, women and girls must be allowed to go to school without fear of violence and unjust treatment, so they can take their rightful place as equal citizens and contributors to society.  It is an outrage that women and girls in any part of the world face this kind of intimidation, simply for seeking an education.  It is an outrage that human trafficking continues to threaten communities anywhere.  And I thank all of my colleagues for the participation, and the long debate about trafficking that preceded this debate now.

“Today, we join together to say to those girls held in captivity in Nigeria and around the world: we will not abandon you; we will stand up for you until justice is done.  The thoughts and prayers of the world are with them, their families and their community.  As I have said, the capture and captivity of these girls captures the conscience of the world in a very specific and different way.  And perhaps that difference will make a difference in how we deal with it.

“I, again, thank our colleagues for bringing this to the floor, and I commend Congresswoman Wilson for her leadership, and I yield back my time.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”