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The Plight Of The Girl- Child (1)

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Participants at a workshop on gender based violence organised by United Nations Women in Conjunction with Unicef in Gombe on Wednesday

Participants at a workshop on gender based violence organised by United Nations Women in Conjunction with Unicef in Gombe on Wednesday

For a person to be
termed a woman, she must have been a girl. Gender discrimination therefore is not restricted by age. It starts the very day the girl child is delivered. Thus, from birth, she suffers condemnation, neglect and disdain. This is enhanced as she grows into a woman.
The girl-child is taught to accept the role of the woman primarily as wife and mother and to fullfil certain economic needs prematurely, whereas from boyhood, the males are already taught to assume the dominant role.
From birth, the girl-child is stigmatized. In some    homes today, if a girl child is born, the father of the child becomes unhappy and sometimes puts the wife away for not being able to bear him a male child, or marries a second wife for that reason.
A child was born and the friend of the man visited the family and demanded that the good news be celebrated, on the contrary, the father of the child retorted by saying, “there is nothing to celebrate, its another mistake.” This is the extent to which the girl child has been looked at as a second class citizen.
Following the above, the girl child who is seen as  a second class citizen is relegated to carry out household chores and eventually given out in marriage so as to get the bride price to train the boy child in school.
The girl child who is domineered by the society of men in all her endeavours faces more serious violation.  For instance, female genital mutilation which is practised as a way of ensuring  that women are not promiscuous, is very harmful to the reproductive health.
Male circumcision is an acceptable practice worldwide for religious and aesthetic reasons. On the contrary, female circumcision is harmful to woman’s reproductive health, and it implies the mutilation of the female genital for ulterior motives i.e. to forestall erotic sensation in order to preserve virginity and chastity.
Thus, women are quasi castrated for men’s purposes and this is against human rights. At this point, I would like to say that who ever wants to get spoilt will get spoilt and who ever wants to be good will be good, parents who are practising this should stop.
Women circumcision is a harmful practice which hampers their reproductive rights and as such is repugnant.
The effect of female genital  mutilation is encompassing. The girl child suffers pronounced physical disabilities and even psychological trauma. It has been noted that quite often, primitive steps have been taken to gain success in this act which requires the use of unsterilized tools which cause HIV/AIDS infection.
This experience does not only cause pains, it introduces shock, hemorrhage, injury to adjacent organs and could also cause death.
Furthermore, female genital mutilation causes painful and prolonged menstrual flow thereby increasing the incidence of anaemia.  It could also cause painful coitus i.e painful sexual intercourse.
Considering the effect of genital mutilation, it could be quickly reached and truely too, that such practice is not only harmful but, it is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.
Although, it has been assumed that the reason for genital mutilation is that if the clitoris is cut off, it will reduce the sex drive in women, thus cutting down on prostitution. But following recent research, it has been proved that the  clitoris is usually chopped off during circumcision.
Female genital mutilation has no relationship with female sexual drive. Thus, the practice of female genital mutilation infringes on the rights and dignity of the woman or girl child which ought to be protected.
The collective effect of the municipal and international conventions is that such acts that are tagged harmful practices should be prohibited and females should be protected from those degrading inhuman practices. A practice that renders the girl child entirely hopeless and useless. It’s effect introduces incessant bad odour, depletion of self image and the effect of inward analytical disturbances, one that affects her psyche. Something she has to live with in her entire life time.
Another instance is early marriage.  Child marriage is a bane in the Muslim North. Very young girls are in effect forced into assuming the monumental responsibilities of wife and mother prematurely.
The aftermath of such brazen sexual violation is the incidence of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) as well as Recto-Vaginal Fistula (RVF) among young girls aged between twelve and fourteen years. These victims are often abandoned by their husbands who end up procuring more child brides.
Their young girls are culturally viewed primarily as sex-objects to be controlled and dominated by their husbands and any attempt at rebelling could be fatal.
A child has no capacity to enter into marriage contracts. It therefore follows that it is unlawful for a child to have sexual intercourse.
The issue of marriageable age has not been settled. Both municipal and international conventions have not placed an acceptable age for marriage. For this reason, different states have different marriageable age.
Despite the unsettled age limits, recourse would be given to the condemnation of the act of having carnal knowledge of girls below 13  years by men.
If carnal knowledge with a girl below 13 years amount to an offence under the Act, it follows that a marriage to such a person within such age bracket should be prohibited.  It is unlawful.
Owing to the duty of the law, it is the duty of the fathers to protect that child from any act that diminishes her dignity.
A duty is imposed on the head of the family to provide necessities to a child who is under 14 years and a member of the household, and he is held to have caused any consequences which result to the life or health of the other person by reason of any omission to perform that duty.
Since the girl-child is regarded as a second class citizen, she is given out as a housemaid at a settled price which in turn is used to train the male child who is given a preferential treatment at the expense of the girl child.
The girl-child as a housemaid in a strange household is on a frolic of  her own. She is not given any assistance, neither is she cared for. All her ‘Oga’ and ‘Madam’ want is that she does whatever she is asked to do.
This is an infringement on the right of the girl child. By the universal declaration of Human Rights, childhood is entitled to special care and assistance.
The housemaid, who is always given buckets which are bigger than her to fetch water from a place very far from the house, does not have the opportunity to be happy, loved or protected.
Most housemaids die untimely of accidents, maltreatment from those they serve etc, which also infringes on their inherent right  to life.
Also, the kind of work she does deters her growth not minding the provision that “state parties should ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child”.
At other times, the child is forced out of her parents house against her will and is taken to a town very far from the one she hails from to be maltreated, thus unlawfully separating her from her parents.
Moreso, nobody gives a growing girl child who is given out as a maid the opportunity  to form her views, let alone expressing those views freely in all matters affecting her as a child.
Again, as a housemaid, the girl child is not entitled to privacy and is sometimes exposed to unlawful attacks on her reputation and honour, since she could be accused of stealing or other like acts.
The giving out of the girl child as a housemaid contravenes the provision of Article 18 of the Rights of the child. It stipulates that state parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle, that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.
Furthermore, the house-maids are exposed to physically and mental violence. Sometimes, the man of the house rapes them, and at other times anybody could abuse them sexually thereby destroying them emotionally and psychological for the rest of their lives.
To be contd.
Aniekan is an intern with The Tide.

 

Patience Aniekan

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Women

NAWOJ Hails Banigo For Fulfilling Promise To Association

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The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State Chapter has thanked the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo for fulfilling her promise to the association.
The Chairperson of NAWOJ, Comrade Susan Serekara-Nwikhana expressed her gratitude, while receiving a Desktop, Printer and Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) given to the association by Dr Banigo through her Director of Administration, Mr Ben Roberts.
She described Dr Banigo as a virtuous woman, who has shown so much love to NAWOJ as well as women and girls in the society and prayed God to increase her financial resources to enable her continue to touch more lives.
Comrade Nwikhana recalled that Dr Banigo had earlier promised to assist NAWOJ when the executive members of the association paid her a courtesy visit in her office and expressed her joy and gratitude for keeping to her promise.
Pledging to make good use of the gifts, NAWOJ Chairperson hinted that like Oliver Twist, the association would continue to call on her matron, Dr Banigo for assistance and counsel and expressed hope the Deputy Governor in her usual way, will always leave her doors open for NAWOJ.
Earlier, the Director of Administration, Mr Ben Roberts, who presented the gifts on behalf of the Deputy Governor, commended NAWOJ for all her activities and advocacies and enjoined her to keep up the good work.

By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Fashion

A Season Of Wife Battery

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A civil servant, Jide Adebayo,  once wrote; “Wife battering should not be permissible by the law. If the wave is increasing, there is need for amendment of the statute books,”.
Adebayo’s position is shared by various non-governmental organisations (ngos) and related associations that have begun canvassing for laws to curb wife beating to ensure full protection for women. 
As it stands, many  NGOs  now provide data on violence against women, particularly domestic violence especially now that the act is criminalised.
From the widely-held perception of male superiority and the belief that men have the right to beat their wives,  it is said that an erring wife should be brought back to the right path of life by beating her once in a while,” says Ngozi Osarenren, a lecturer at the University of Lagos .
But that is highly erronuos. This  coercive power of men  which is often manifested in physical and mental subjugation through violence, smacks of discrimination  against women in Nigeria. Thus, the idea of considering “Wife battering  a family problem to be settled in the privacy of the home” and classified under common assault in the nation’s criminal code, only to be given due attention when grievous bodily harm is inflicted and, possibly the death of a victim,  must be reviewed.
Due to the laccadaisical attitude of the custodians of our safety in this regard,  issues such as Man beats wife to stupor over snoring,
Man allegedly beats wife to stupor for starting business without his consent, Man beats his wife to Stupor For Attending church Activities Amidst corona virus , Medical Doctor beats wife to stupor etc, appear to be the trending headlines on both local and foriegn tabloids.
Just recently, a man beats wife to death over N2,000 in Benin City. A 45-year-old man identified as Christopher, beat his wife to death over N2,000. The incidence  happened at No. 1, Agbontaen Street, beside Ebvareke Secondary School, off Agboniro Street, Uselu, Benin City.
The man was said to have pounced on his wife, Mrs. Isoken Christopher, following her failure to give him the N2,000 loan he requested from her.
The eldest child of the deceased, Augustine Christopher, said his mother was hale and hearty before the sad incidence.The 13-year old boy explained that his father, who is a menial worker with a waste manager in Benin, always beats his mother at the slightest provocation.
Barely one week after  police in Adamawa apprehended a man for beating his wife to death, a similar incidence re-occurred in the state.Hammawa Usman, 41, of Jada Ward, Ganye town in Ganye Local Government Area  reportedly killed  his 36-years-old wife, Rabiyatu Usman, in a dispute involving N1,000.
Sulaiman Nguroje, Police spokesman,  said the suspect engaged Rabiyatu in a fight when she demanded the refund of her N1,000. From his explanation, “the suspect angrily reacted by hitting her head against the wall … she fell unconscious and was rushed to the hospital where she was later confirmed dead.This is how a  16 -years  old marriage. With  five children  ended in sorrow.
The case of man beating  wife to stupor over snoring was one of the earliest reports on wife battery ever recorded. A 30-year- old, commercial motorcyclist, Tukur Paul alegedly beat his wife, Mrs Jennifer Paul to stupor for accusing him of snoring. Official  reports said the intervention by neighbours and passers-by saved her from further attack.
According to an eye witness who preferred anonymity, it all started at about 9 p.m. on  the fateful day  when neighbours ran outside at the shout of the wife who was seriously being beaten by her husband.
This is not a case of extra-marital affairs that usually lead to divorce, but a mere misunderstanding that could be controlled with little patience,. The woman, according to the husband,  prevented him from sleeping after having a hard day. Paul said having gone through a hectic day, that he decided to have some rest but was prevented by his wife because he was snoring.
For whatever reason that may have pushed this husband to act the way he did, his luck was that he immediately contacted the police who was able to help him resuscitate her.
In another instance, a  four-year-old union that has produced a son witnessed a round of media scrutiny when on Friday April 28, 2017, the news made the rounds that a  Nollywood actress,  was battered by her husband,  and that she had suffered injuries on the face. She was reported to have been on admission at a hospital where she was treated as a result of the assault.
This was clearly highlighted   three days later, as Kemi Ashefon, a journalist,  dropped some lines, informing the public of an incidence of wife battery. Kemi  posted  the photo of the battered face of Mercy Aigbe,  an   actress and mother of two, allegedly perpetrated by her husband  Lanre Gentry.  The media then was inundated with report  on an investigation committee set up by the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs over the alleged battery and assault on the actress by her husband.
This was against the backdrop that the  ministry  of women affairs has incessantly campaigned against domestic violence and sensitized women to report cases of violence for possible prosecution. Meanwhile the then governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, had  issued a mandate to the ministry to crack down on domestic violence especially against women. Obviously, this  was a habinger of the fall of an enviable marriage.
“Man beats wife to death for refusing sex in Edo”, was another headline that attracted varying reactions from the public.The family of a woman, Ugieki Asemota, has urged the Edo State Police Command to prosecute her husband, Emmanuel, for allegedly beating her to death for refusing him sexual intercourse.
It was gathered that an argument ensued between the couple at their residence on Abaegbe Street in the Evbotubu area of Benin on Monday, June 28, 2021.
It was learnt that Ugieki entered her room and locked the door to avoid issues with her husband.But, Emmanuel, who persisted in entering the room with her, allegedly tried to break the door with an axe.While Ugieki attempted to escape through the window, her husband was said to have accosted and beaten  her to a coma.
The victim, was said to have been rejected by two hospitals before she was admitted in to the third hospital  where she finally died. Unfortunately, while the marriage lasted,  it was gathered that it was fraught with violence.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Kontongs Bello, who confirmed the incident, said the suspect would be charged to court at the end of investigation.
He said, “The couple were married in 2002 and had two boys together before she died. The woman denied him sex and he beat her to a coma. When we finish our preliminary investigation, we will charge him to court.”
The list is endless. One wonders how on earth in this present modern world will a man beat up his wife over trivial issues. I think the earlier we resolve to treat wife battery with disdain, the better for the society.

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Women

Gov Wike Mourns RSNC Editor, RSTV GM

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike , has expressed his condolences to the management and staff of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation (RSNC) over the demise of The Tide Editor, Mrs Juliet Njiowhor, who died penultimate Saturday in Port Harcourt.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim , conveyed the Governor’s condolence message when he led principal officers of his ministry on a condolence visit to the corporation last Tuesday.
Describing the death of Mrs Njiowhor as a big blow to the ministry and the corporation, Nsirim noted that the late Editor was an outstanding professional who put in her best in the discharge of her duties.
The Commissioner charged the editorial team of the corporation to ensure that her legacies of professionalism and hard work were built up on.
In his response, the General Manager of the Corporation, Chief Ernest Chinwo described the demise of Mrs Njiowhor as devastating. He thanked the Commissioner for the visit and assured the Commissioner that the Management would do its best to sustain the standard set by the late Editor.
In similar vein, the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, also conveyed the condolences of the Rivers State Chief Executive to the staff and family of the General Manager of the Rivers State Television, Pastor Dafini Gogo-Abbey, who died recently.
The Commissioner while speaking as Special Guest at the Night of Tributes organised by RSTV management in Port Harcourt charged the management and staff of the organisation to build on the legacies left behind by the late General Manager.
“Sister Dafini will be the happiest person if she finds out that her dreams and vision to make RSTV a modern station comes to reality and what that entails is that you must be united”, the Commissioner said.
Another major event, last week in Brick House, was the flag off of the Ukeli Road project at Rundele in Emohua Local Government Area. The project is being executed by the newly inaugurated Chairman of Emohua Local Government Council, Hon Chidi Lloyd.
The Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Hon Emeka Woke stressed that funds accruable to councils from the Federation Account was not for payment of staff salaries alone but was also meant for development projects.
Woke who was a former Chairman of the council said it was erroneous for people to believe that all the funds accruable to any local government council should be expended on renumeration of staff alone.
The Chief of Staff who lauded the Chairman of Emohua Local Government Council, Hon Chidi Lloyd for completing there out of the eight projects flagged off since he assumed office last month said when completed, the Ukeli Road would open the area to investors who would provide employment to the youths of the area.
He called for a synergy between the Legislative and Executive arms in the council to ensure delivery of good governance and democratic dividends to the people at the grassroots.
Woke warned those threatening to destabilise prevailing peace in the council to have a rethink as the PDP leadership in Emohua would not succumb to any form of blackmail and intimidation.
Also last week, the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers embarked on inspection of projects by the administration of Chief Nyesom Wike, and expressed satisfaction with the huge commitment of Gov. Wike in developing critical infrastructure and using them to attract investors to the state.
Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, King Dandeson Douglas-Jaja (Jeki V) said they visited Emohua, Bori, Ahoada, Obio/Akpor, Eleme amongst other local government areas in the state and noted that there was good spread of projects across the three senatorial districts.
He made special mention of the Mother and Child Hospital, Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Medical Sciences and Dr Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diagonistic and Treatment Centre, describing them as huge investments in health sector.
He expressed delight that contractors were employing youths of the state and also involving local contractors as strictly directed by the state Governor.
“This is just six years into Gov. Wike’s achievements. He has done well in all sectors. In the remaining two years, I don’t see him changing style. We commended him.
“We urge our people to cooperate with the government . They should own and protect the projects so that the money spent won’t be lost”, he said.

By: Chris Oluoh

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