Rather than being a year of increased awareness and adherence to the rights of the girl-child, activities surrounding the year 2017 appear to negate accrued painstaking campaigns and efforts that have gone into the liberation of the female gender in Nigeria.
Women were largely victims of rape, violence, abuse of all sorts among other ill treatments in a year.
However, a remarkable thing about 2017 is the reaction of women towards these violent acts. From objective observations, the response of these victims towards their human predators has been largely on a retaliatory note.
In year 2017, women resorted to the use of violence as a protective measure against their predators and many of them have ended their abusive relationship by stabbing their husbands or lovers to death.
For instance, an Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan sentenced a female lawyer, Yewande Oyediran, to seven years imprisonment for stabbing her husband, Lowo, to death for having a love-child outside their marriage with a white woman in Europe. Lowo got killed following an argument between him and his wife Yewande for wanting to bring back his child to Nigeria.
Another example was Sanda Bello whose mother is the former Executive Director of Aso Savings and Loans, Hajiya Maimuna Aliyu Sanda, had on November 19, 2017, reportedly stabbed her husband,Bilyaminu Bello, the son of Alhaji Halliru Bello, a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to death during a quarrel after she saw a text message on his phone sent by another woman.
The Ladies Zone: Unprotected preys
In year 2017, virtually all states in the country recorded ugly cases of incest. Sadly, most of the victims happened to be children and relatives who had no voice and suffered in silence on the threat of being killed or maimed if they told anyone.
One of the cases is that of 52-year-old Paul Akpederi, who had been sleeping with his 16-year-old daughter for over five years before being exposed.
Another is the case of an incestuous father, Folorunsho Oluwaseun, who repeatedly abused his 17-year-old daughter between August 2016 and April 2017 at their residence in Ikorodu, Lagos State. The 51-year-old electrician had reportedly been awarded the custody of his three children after his divorce with his wife.
The victim, in return, had to comply against her wish as refusal attracts hunger and punishment for her and her siblings.
Unfortunately, Mr. Oluwaseun was released on N300,000 bail with two sureties in like sum after he pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Also, in the Unguwa Uku axis of Kano, a father (name withheld) was reported to have been consistently sleeping with his 14-year-old daughter whom he had impregnated on three different occasions. In Lagos, a 41-year-old father confessed to have started sleeping with his 15-year-old daughter blaming his involvement in the act on the loss of his job.
Pains of incest victims
A sexual assault referral centre in Lagos, the Mirabel Center recently rescued a Primary five pupil who have been sexually abused by her 35-year-old father, Emmanuel Idoko for over five months. The victim was said to have suffered psychological and physiological traumas, which made her, confess to a mandated reporter who visited her school.
Marriages dissolve over incest
Daramola Yemisi, a 36 year old seamstress had called for the termination of her marriage due to the incestuous relationship between her husband, Babatunde and their 15 year old daughter.
She said, “My husband left me on the bed and went to meet my daughter on the mat to romance her. I caught him touching my daughter’s breasts while she was asleep. After I caught him, I asked my daughter why she did not tell me, and she told me that my husband gave her money and told her not to tell anyone.”
Child rapists on the loose
Suddenly, child rape went on the rampage in Nigeria. Child rapists were seemed to be let loose on the prowl. They were everywhere. Almost on daily basis throughout year 2017, cases of child rape flooded the media.
In Ibadan, an 11-year-old hawker who sells detergent was gang raped by four men in February 2017 after being lured into an uncompleted building on the pretense of patronage. It was gathered that the victim had refused to sell to the men after smelling fowl but was subsequently forced into the building where her mouth was gagged.
A 35-year-old man, Haruna Murtari had also defiled a four-year-old girl, who according to reports happened to be the daughter of his neighbour. The accused had sent the girl to buy biscuits and when she returned he gave her his phone to watch movie, before having canal knowledge of her.
Also, a Vice Principal in Nassarawa State alongside three other persons raped a female student in his school.
These predators performed this act with extreme impunity coated in beastly passion to the extent that the Nigeria Police arraigned about 57 suspected rapists in Kano who defiled more than 57 minors within three weeks! Some of the victims were reportedly infected with HIV/Aids, while others got treated for various degrees of canal injuries.
Nigerian senate urges judiciary to revisit law on sexual offences
Sometime in May, the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Sen. Bala Ibn Na’Allah, moved a motion entitled “Urgent Need to Investigate Alarming Rate of Rape and Sexual Assault against Women, Children and Vulnerable People across the Country’’. He stated that the frightening increase in sexual violence cases constitutes a serious security threat to the larger segment of the society and that most of the cases where the victims are minor and under aged are severely under reported.
According to him, “The perversion is spreading across the country, with both the male and female gender as victims, especially in view of the poor prosecution and conviction numbers being turned out. It was stated that 1,480 cases of domestic violence, ranging from rape, child abuse, sexual abuse, assaults, defilement, to matrimonial issues were recorded in two years.’’
He therefore called upon the judiciary to re-visit the law on all sexual offences and address the seriousness they bear while also urging Police authorities to investigate and prosecute cases of sexual abuse, violation and violence in line with the provisions of extant laws of the Federation.
Child marriage also became prevalent in 2017. Men mostly in the Northern part of the country went for underage girls( girls before the ages of 15).
It got so bad that Nigeria was declared home to the largest number of child marriages in Africa, by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in November. UNICEF revealed that Mauritania, Niger, Chad and the Central African Republic rank among countries where under-age marriages thrive in Africa but Nigeria, with 23 million, is home to the largest number of child brides. It also warned as delegates met in Zambia to discuss how to halt the practice that child marriages in Africa was set to double by 2050 unless urgent steps were taken. “Africa’s population of girls is expected to balloon from the current 275 million to 465 million within 35 years. By 2050 we will have more teenagers marrying
in Africa than anywhere else in the world,” it said.
Corroborating the UNICEFs view, wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Buhari lamented the prevalence of child marriage in northern Nigeria According to her, such practice negatively affect the health, education, economic condition and increase domestic violence of girls. She said that 28.2 percent of married women in Nigeria are between the ages of 15 and 19 compared to 1.1 percent of men in the same age group.
Hajiya Buhari, at the National Conference on Social Protection for the Girl Child, organized by Action Aid in partnership with Ford foundation in October; said that violence against the girl child is based on cultural beliefs and gender norms which takes many different forms in Nigeria, including domestic violence, female private part mutilation (FGM), early marriage, sexual violence, and exploitation through child labor and domestic work.
The Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi in his presentation said that the right of the father to marry out his daughter without her consent should be taken away, because such right does not exist.
The representative of Ford Foundation, Innocent Chukwuma said that one in every three girls are estimated to be married before the age of 18, noting that child marriage lies at the intersection of a broad set of structural and social problems facing girls today. “The practice of child marriage violates girls’ human rights; curtails their educational future and success; exposes them to greater health risks related to maternal mortality, maternal disability, infant disability and HIV; and is more likely to lead them into violent and abusive circumstances, social exclusion and poverty,” he said
Violence against women
Violence against women in Nigeria, like most African countries, was very common in 2017 and committed with high degree of impunity. Figures put it at up to 50- 60 per cent of Nigerian homes and most of it go unreported, either because of our cultural background, the family set-up, or economy reasons.
Medical experts at a conference concluded that the psychological consequences of violence against women called for urgent action to stem the ugly trend.
According to a consultant psychiatrist, Dr Grace Ijarogbe, most of the cases of violence against women go unreported “because the perpetrators are at a higher advantage than the victim.” “… when violence is committed against a woman, she has a feeling that she is worthless, she has a low self-esteem, she withdraws from friends because she has a feeling that people will know what is going on and if she continues being abused, she becomes depressed, anxious and then, she starts making mistakes.”
In an effort to tackle the menace of violence against women, the United Nations under its Women, Peace and Security Programme in December, called on community and religious leaders to join hands in eradicating the menace.
Olusegun Akinwotu, a medical doctor said, the psychological effects of domestic violence according to him range from post-traumatic disorder, anxiety disorder, development of emotional mood disorder like depression and they can develop psychosis. “The prevalence of mental illness among women will be reduced by 50 per cent if domestic violence is reduced and that is significant because you can always trace most of these mental illnesses to something happening in the past.”
The representative of United Nations (UN) Women to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Dr. Grace Ongile spoke in Gombe during a one-day consultative meeting aimed at strengthening partnership and commitment with community and religious leaders in the state towards tackling the menace.
The organisation through its Deputy Programme Manager, said violence against women slows down poverty eradication, just as much as it is a consequence of discrimination against women.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Muhammadu Adamu Bappah said a draft copy of the domesticated Child right Law was before the state Ministry of Justice for consideration and onward presentation to as bill to the State Assembly.
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