It supposed to be a man’s world going by their nature and physique. They are naturally known for hard-core jobs. And, for the mentally warped ones among them, they are known for acts like drugs, kidnapping and gangsterism etc. Unfortunately, they are no longer alone in that world, as women are fast taking the centre stage. MUHAMMAD KABIR reports
But not only by the calling of their nature (as the weaker sex) such as being in the kitchen, rearing children or being at the beck and call of their husbands and undertaking other domestic chores, they are also deeply engaged in drug, alcohol, farming and other hard stance of life for sustainability.
Such has become the fate of most women in Kano, Northern part of Nigeria who are frontal about drug. They are no longer coy and homely. They have rather become champions and bold in prostitution. They have also become barons and leading dealers of hard drugs like Syrup Codrugs, Tramadol, Violins, Refanol tabs and Desy Tabs and marijuana.
New Telegraph found out that most women, especially married ones in Kano State, have become drug addicts, the young girls are not left out of the fray as well. They are mostly between the ages of 15 and 20, who are gradually graduating to becoming drug barons on daily basis.
According to most of the girls who spoke to New Telegraph, they become more sexually active when they take the drugs. In their words, “we could go into sexual acts for hours without getting tired. It is as long as our partners desire, it is also pleasurable being in the act under the influence of those drugs especially the Codeine,” they said.
Talatu Yargari, one of the married women who are drug addicts, explained that most of them go into the dastard act to assuage relationship traumas. She noted that such drugs enable them to easily forget their marital troubles and enjoy the moment. Yargari who got married at the age of 14 said she never had marital bliss with her aged husband of 58 years who was always in the habit of beating her and neglecting her. In her words, “It has never been rosy for me in Alhaji’s house. From day one of my forced marriage to Alhaji, I never knew peace; it has been from one accusation to the other, starvation of food and sex, harassment from his family members and older children from his previous marriage. He also beats me mercilessly often times. The only place I get consolation is from my association with the other women who are into such social gathering. That way, I derive joy,” she narrated.
Iyya Yarbaba, 16, who refused her picture to be taken told New Telegraph that she got into the drugs addictions through a friend in her Secondary School. According to her, she normally takes the drugs late into the night and that helps her sleep tight and sound “but my parents were not in the know initially. But you know nothing bad get hideaway for too long. With time, everybody gets to know what I’m doing and by that then, it has become seriously difficult for me to do away with it,” she confessed.
Yarbaba further revealed that she is just one of the hundreds recruited into prostitution and drug world. She disclosed that some of their teachers also encouraged them into the acts. “Sometimes, they supplied us with marijuana or introduce men who they believe can withstand the strength of the sex drive drugs they gave us,” she said.
Drug addiction is fast becoming a prevalent social ill in Nigeria, one of the world’s most populated country.
New Telegraph also gathered that most young women who took to drugs did so to satisfy their sex partners. With that, they spend hours sleeping without any disturbances after hours of sexual intercourse.
According to a 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) Drug Report, “about 29.5 million people globally suffer from drug use disorders, opioids the most harmful.”
The ugly development has been a source of concern for some individuals, stakeholders and government agencies, in Nigeria who are grappling with how to nip the scourge in the bud.
Speaking on the issue, Commander of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA,) in Kano, Mallam Hamza Umar confirmed the illicit drugs addictions mostly among married women in the State. He said drugs get into most matrimonial homes through number of ways that included bad friends, hardship and bad orientation. It also included women financial contributory system called ” Adashi” in Hausa language.
Another channel according to the NDLEA Commander is the relationship between some divorcées and the other married women, young girls that are friends to those married women, and the fact that these house wives do attend some outside activities that bring them together with so many other ones whose character are called to questions.
He said no matter what a husband could do he cannot separate his wife with bad friends but a combined efforts of government, community and parents would drastically bring these problems to its knee. It would be recalled that Kano was recently said to have consumed illicit drugs worth millions of Naira and that about three million persons are involved in the drugs addictions problems.
Although the State through Senior Special Adviser on mobilization against drugs, Nasidi Abdullahi Dorayi debunked the allegations that 3 million persons are involved in drugs addictions, it stated that efforts are already ongoing to tackle the menace.
Similarly in Yobe state, Emir of Ngazargamo, Alhaji Ahmed Tijjani Saleh Gaidam, called on Federal, State Governments and officials of NDLEA to declare war on drug abuse.
Speaking in his palace, the emir, who said the increasing number of youths and married women abusing drugs in the country, was alarming, said government should come up with measures to address the situation. He said in Yobe State in particular, lot of youths and married women were involved in the consumption of strong analgesic called Tramadol, codeine and other harmful substances that changed their thinking.
He added that, “it is unfortunate at how it became so rampant among people, drug addition has become one of the issues of concern and a major problem within the teeming youths.”
According to him, it has gone to the extent now that if you go to the local markets in the rural areas, you find people selling it openly without fear of law and order. “We must put hands on desk to checkmate those who were involved in drugs business and bring them on book, this is our responsibility despite the region, religion, tribe and political inclination, we cannot allow this to continue,” Emir said.
•Additional report by HASSAN JIRGI, DAMATURU
Victoria Amu: Aiming for the falcon height
For Victoria Amu, an exceptional and a fulfilled Occupational Therapist, when it comes to attaining one’s dream in life, sky is just the beginning. In a chat with Oluwatosin Omoniyi, Amu advises that people, women especially, should recognise what they excel in and build on it, as that is what would lead them to their desired destinations
For the women out there, Amu believes there should not be limitations to one’s vision because “women are the strongest. They can do anything they set out their minds to do. They should bring out their kitchen skills to better the society. Women are known achievers; as such, they should go all out for it. Going by the general saying, if you want a work done and done properly, give it to a woman,” she said.
Amu ventured into the unusual field- ‘Occupational Therapist’ because she believes that the hospital settings should go beyond ‘patient-doctor-nurses.’ “It’s high time treatment in hospitals go beyond doctors/nurses relationship, there should be the OT section as well. According to her, some cases need not a doctor or nurse but a therapist for physical, trauma or emotional treatment.
She said since she began the journey in 2006, it has been challenging but submersible especially when people get to know what she does and the reason for it. As an OT, she pointed to different two areas of the profession- communicable and incommunicable diseases. She explained that they are either persons with physical disability like stroke, or persons with spinal cord injury. “I also work with kids who have autism, mental retardation, who cannot sit or stand on their feet. You see that there are strengths in them but they are entrapped in the body that they have,” she said.
In addition to the challenges, she pointed out that Nigeria is yet to be fully aware of the essence of OT, “but I am happy that the name Victoria Amu has become a household name in the field of OT,” she said. The most fulfilling and joyful moment for Amu is having worked for a short period of time with patients, she sees that they respond positively to treatment and that has been her passion couple with a lot of passionate volunteer works she had done abroad years back. Amu defined it as service without expecting money or reward but pure display of passion for the profession. According to her, it had helped tremendously in building her career.
“When I started, it became great and joyous because my patients responded positively and quickly. For instance, I worked with a stroke patient for just one month and I began seeing movement and lot of positives. I wonder if I performed magic.
I worked with a depressed patient and with couple of months, the person is suddenly out of depression, I marveled. Or a year-old child that can’t crawl as an OT, I worked with the child for just few months, the child started crawling and holding onto something. Really, for me, happiness is when I make people happy, when I’m able to fill the void of a need for someone, to put smile on someone’s face. It is about using your strength to bring out someone’s weakness and help work upon it, which is what OT is all about.
Ms. Victoria Amu was born in Lagos, Nigeria and she is a USA trained Occupational Therapist, with a Masters degree in Community Health Education and candidate for Masters in Public Health . Her passion for Occupational Therapy (OT) is in Neuro-Rehabilitation, with an objective for advocacy and social justice. This led to her heeding the clarion call and returned to Nigeria with the vision for social justice and equality.
She began resuscitating the dying Occupational Therapy services in Nigeria, by joining University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) and initiated the change of the Department from two open spaces with four Occupational Therapy Assisitants as staff to a department with six treatment areas( Neuro-Rehabilitation, Peadiatrics, Orthopeadic and splinting, Mental Health, ADL, vocational Rehabilitation). She worked not only as a HOD, but also supervised clinical postings of OT and OTA students, besides her regular routine practice of an astute Therapist. In a bid to extend Occupational Therapy service to clients and patients not in the mainstream of Government Hospital service, Ms. Amu became a consultant to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)Hospital, Benin Zone (2008-2011).
In further pursuit of her advocacy and social justice, she joined the Edo State Hospitals Management Board, and made history by establishing the first State-of Art OT Department in Nigeria within a State owned Hospital. She is presently the Assistant Director, Occupational Therapy, HOD, and member of the Central Hospital Management Committee.
Victoria Amu continues in her quest of making notable advancement in Occupational Therapy. Today, Occupational Therapy practice and service delivery in Nigeria is synonymous with the name VICTORIA AMU
Ms. Amu strives daily to integrate OT service into the Two Hundred and Five (205) Tertiary Hospitals across Nigeria. She is always at the fore-front in advocating and has proposed a revised curriculum of study for Bachelor of Occupational Therapy in several Universities in Nigeria. Victoria Amu’s consolidated effort in revamping the Occupational Therapy profession has resulted in increase employment of entry-level OT graduates into public and private Hospitals. Ms Amu did not stop here, she also Champion the introduction of a new salary scheme to strengthen the work force of the profession in Nigeria.
Internationally, Victoria Amu has contributed immensely to the coordination of OT Profession across Africa through students training and capacity building for public and private organization within the Health Sector. She lead a team of Occupational Therapist to OTARG congress Ghana 2017, and represented Nigeria during WFOT Congress in Yokohama, Japan 2014 as well as OTARG congress in Kampala, Uganda. In addition, Victoria Amu participated in the Training the Trainer project under the framework of UNESCO Early Childhood Education. Victoria Amu has consistently contributed to the body of knowledge in Occupational Therapy through her regional and international publications. She is a public speaker on many issues of national interests related to Occupational Therapy and Health Issues. Her strong passion for advocacy and social equalities has made her a voice for positive change in Civil Advocacy for adult education.
Victoria Amu, has in no small way contributed Occupational Therapy professional Development. As a consequences, she has organized work-shops in areas of Stroke Rehabilitation and Human Occupations within Nigeria.
She is a member of many Professional Organizations – World Federation of Occupational Therapist (WFOT), Medical Rehabilitation Therapist Board of Nigeria(MRTBN), Occupational Therapist in Nigeria (OTAN), America Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine(ACRM) and Occupational Therapy Africa Regional Group(OTARG). She was also a member of the Medical Reserve Corp – USA, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and was the co-coordinator, South-South Civil Society for the eradication of Tuberculosis.
She has won several awards which includes the academic achievements of outstanding college students in America, the National Dean’s List (1993), and earned herself the Employee of the Year Awa rd (VNSNY) in 2005, and also the NAWOJ 2010 AMAZON Award for outstanding Leadership/Administrative Acumen by the Nigerian Association of Women Journalist.
She is the National President of the Occupational Therapists Association (OTAN), formerly Nigeria Association of Occupational Therapist (2014 – present), also functions as World Federation of Occupational Therapy, delegate (2014 – present), Chairman Curriculum Development Research and Strategy Committee(2016 – present), Fmr. Board member of the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists Board of Nigeria (2013 – 2016)
Mrs. Amu is an urbane character with passion for excellence. She is very resilient, hard working. She is an ardent activist for social justice and equality her firm belief in the philosophy of persistence breaks resistance makes her a well-adjusted individual, to cope with every challenge that comes her way.
Victoria Amu is a Christian and has four children. She loves reading, listening to music and socializing.
International Women’s Day: Celebrating world’s rare gifts
Women are generally referred to as the salt of the earth but rarely celebrated. A woman wears various titles in a lifetime, which cuts across being a daughter, wife, sister, aunt, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother among others with each title carrying a tag of functions. She is also made to change her last name following marriage conditions but in all these, scarcely does her soul mate celebrate her.
However, some sects who acknowledge the importance of woman in the society set some days apart for the celebration of women. One of such is the Fountain of life church with the establishment of their discovery for women programme which is geared towards empowering the women in the Christian fold. March 11, thousands of women gathered at the church’s multi-million auditorium to celebrate themselves in the presence of their maker-God. The theme for the day’s programme was coined as, ‘A rare gift’.
Speaking at the event, shepherd of the church, Pastor Taiwo Odukoya gave words of encouragement to the female-folk present. He emphasised the place of the woman quoting verses in the Bible that states their prominence.
According to him, woman is a rare gift to humanity, “a woman is not an afterthought, a woman is a preserved part of creation.
God so places prominence on woman that he said that it is the seed of woman that would bruise the head of the serpent and not that of man. That seed is Jesus and he came through a woman without the inclusion of a man. The first woman was called eve which means the mother of all living things, she was regarded as a gift,” he said.
He said to the women, “your first appearance on earth was to meet a need. A need that mankind cannot meet. The first appearance of a woman was as a wife. Woman was made the centre of all things, whether a woman is a slave like Haggai or a queen like Esther, a multitude lies within her. Men may lose hope, no problem but when a woman loses hope, that’s the end of that situation. Women and men are created equally, it is only on the basis of marriage that a woman is to be submissive to a single man.”
At the occasion are women from all occupations including mega gospel artist Tope Alabi flanked by her band and her husband where she thrilled participants with the latest gospel songs. The choir team of the church clad in yellow blouse and black trousers also are not left out of the fray as they render soul stirring ministrations at intervals.
New Telegraph spoke with some of the women in attendance on their perception of the program tilted towards celebrating their folk.
Miss Deborah Umoren, a fashion blogger and member of the church said that since March is women’s month and a month that includes the international Women’s Day, it’s only very proper that on Mother’s Day, a programme such as rare gift is taking place thereby creating awareness for women to build a foundation for generations to come.
She believes that the programme comes at the appropriate time because different people have their source and this programme is to tell women that they have an everlasting source to be who they want to be. She added that, “there are lots of oppression to marginalize women in different sectors of the world, in business, entertainment, banking, finances, family and everything the woman is sidelined so when you empower women especially spiritually and you tell them that they have a backing to be who God wants them to be, it’s a refreshing thing.”
She believes that many women have gone back home to rebuild their families that may have been broken before, or that might have had a child who is straying away or they might even be in business and they feel that because they are women they can’t get to a particular position. “This programme such as rare gift has told women today that they are special, no matter the circumstances. Pastor Odukoya mentioned that victory comes after knowing who you are, once you know your identity, every other thing would work to your good. It is amazing that we have such a programme like this. This is my first discovery for women.”
Also speaking, Miss Tunmi Osibanjo, a Caterer and member of the church said that the programme was really one geared towards discovery. She believes that it makes many people discover themselves “because a lot of people are lost and have issues. Just like the pastor said that every woman has a battle that she is fighting so I think it helps you to discover yourself and puts you on the right path”
Another participant, Mrs. Funmi Aworere, Head of Resources in a private firm said that the programme is one that celebrates women across borders. She said that it is good to have such a programme so that people would know about the place and value of women all over the world.
“It would also make the children appreciate their mothers and make the men appreciate their wives. This is not my first time, I’ve been coming and I’ve had testimonies. Sometimes in 2002, I came as a single, when it was time for ministration, one of the female ministers held my hands and prayed for me concerning what I needed which was to get married and I got my miracle,” she said.
Miss Ayodele Sam-Ajayi, a member of the church revealed that the programme has been going on for years and it holds two to three times a year. She said that discovery programme is not associated with any world day, it is a program organised by the church to celebrate the women in the church, to empower them and make them know their place in Christ whether single or married.
“As far as you are a woman just know your place so that when you get into the outside world, you would not be intimidated, just like the Pastor said this afternoon, some women get intimidated by the position of men. It is more of like giving the power God has given us back to us. It is to realise the power that God has given to us. It is organised for the daughters of God to know their rightful place. I’ve had lots of testimonies from the program but I also key into the testimonies that others share and God blessed me.
Today again, I’ve keyed into something and I know I’ve gotten it. Listening to other people’s testimonies builds up your faith and wants to make you believe more”
A brief visit to the church’s website reveals that Discovery for Women is a dynamic ministry set up by the Late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya dedicated to helping women to be the best God has ordained them to be.
UN: 12m girls married during childhood annually
…numbers falling, says Unicef
Despite drop in annual child marriages, new UN figures show quicker progress is needed to end the practice. At least 12 million girls are married during childhood, under the age of 18, annually, according to new data from the UN.
A report by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) released on Tuesday revealed that while there is a decrease in the global percentage of child marriages, more than 150 million additional girls will be married before their 18th birthday by 2030.
Anju Malhotra, UNICEF’s principal gender adviser, said although “any reduction is welcome news … we’ve got a long way to go.” “We’re going to have to collectively redouble efforts to prevent millions of girls from having their childhoods stolen through this devastating practice,” she said. “When a girl is forced to marry as a child, she faces immediate and lifelong consequences.
Her odds of finishing school decrease, while her odds of being abused by her husband and suffering complications during pregnancy increase. There are also huge societal consequences, and higher risk of intergenerational cycles of poverty.” South Asia has witnessed the largest drop in child marriage over the past decade, with the risk declining from nearly 50 percent to 30 percent, according to the report.
‘Girls not valued as highly as boys’
In India, the decline in child marriages is the result of better education for girls and more efficient campaigning of the practice’s negative effects, UNICEF said. Current trends show that 27 percent of Indian girls get married before they turn 18, down from 47 percent a decade ago.
“The decline shows that it is indeed possible to end child marriage – this is not an intractable problem. Laws are only one part of the answer. Girls need also to be empowered, families and communities need to be mobilised to create a change at a local level. Child marriage persists because girls are not valued as highly as boys,” Lakshmi Sundaram, executive director at Girls Not Brides, an umbrella body of civil society outfits fighting to end the practice, told Al Jazeera.
Child marriage, although a punishable offence, remains widespread in some parts of the country. It is extremely rare for minor girls to file cases to get their marriages annulled especially if by then they are already pregnant.
Jayna Kothari, executive director at the Centre for Law & Policy Research. Data from the 2011 national census shows more than five million Indian girls were married before the legal age of 18, showcasing the limited success of tough penalties against the crime. “I was married when I was 14. I was the oldest of five siblings, three of them girls. My parents were keen to marry us off as early as possible.
I was excited to dress up as a bride, but I do not remember much else from the day. Later, my husband used to beat me up and my mother-in-law was cruel to me. They sent me back home to my parents saying I was not ‘obedient’,” Rinki, 22, who lives in Hisar in the northern Indian state of Haryana, told Al Jazeera.
The legal age for marriage in India is 18 for women and 21 for men. India remains a deeply patriarchal society. Women and men are still murdered across villages of northern India for daring to marry outside their caste. Cases of illegal abortions of female foetuses and immolation of young brides by their in-laws for not fulfilling dowry demands are also rampant.
According to Girls Not Brides, the rate of child marriage varies between states and are as high as 69 and 65 percent in the northern Indian states of Bihar and Rajasthan, respectively. The impunity stems from the fact that “the law only prohibits child marriages but does not make them illegal”, says Jayna Kothari, executive director of the Bangalore-based Centre for Law & Policy Research, who has petitioned the government to declare child marriages invalid, told Al Jazeera.
“Though under the law, the age of marriage for girls is 18 and for boys, it is 21, marriages of minors are still valid marriages. The law only provides for punishment of those who conduct the marriage. This is the big loophole – child marriages are not invalid yet,” she said, explaining that most minor girls are reluctant to file criminal complaints against their parents. “It is extremely rare for minor girls to file cases to get their marriages annulled, especially if, by then, they are already pregnant.”
The Indian government is now reportedly considering amending the existing law to declare all child marriages invalid. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 326 incidents of child marriage were reported in India in 2016, although activists say the figure is much higher. Experts say the consequences of child marriage on the sexual and reproductive health of girls and young women are “devastating”. “Child brides are generally forced into sexual activity when their bodies are still developing, and most lack the knowledge, confidence, and power to negotiate safe sex.
They are vulnerable to the complications of early pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, fistulas and death in childbirth,” Sundaram of Girls Not Brides told Al Jazeera. Earlier last year, India’s top court struck down a contentious clause in rape laws permitting a man to have sex with his wife if she is aged between 15 to 18 – ruling that it effectively amounted to rape, and is, therefore, a criminal offence. “If a man has sexual intercourse with a wife who is below 18 years, it is an offence … Exception in rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitrary. It violates bodily integrity of the girl child,” the ruling said.
The Indian government had argued in court last year that criminalising sex with an under-age wife “would destroy the marital life of a girl who got married under 18 years of age” and “that there are 23 million child brides in the country and criminalising the consummation of a child-marriage marriage would not be appropriate and practical”.
But Unicef said that there has been a significant drop in the number of child marriages worldwide, the United Nations children’s agency says. Unicef estimates that 25 million child marriages have been prevented in the past decade. One in five girls are now married before they are 18, compared with one in four a decade ago. South Asian countries have seen the biggest reduction in child marriages, Unicef says. In India this was achieved by better education for girls and by publicising the harm child marriage causes. The agency said the problem was now most severe in Africa but even so, Ethiopia had cut child marriage rates by a third.
Anju Malhotra, Unicef’s principal gender adviser, said that given the life-changing impact child marriage had on a girl’s life, “any reduction is welcome news – but we’ve got a long way to go”. “When a girl is forced to marry as a child she faces immediate and lifelong consequences,” she said. “Her odds of finishing school decrease while her odds of being abused by her husband and suffering complications during pregnancy increase.
There are also huge societal consequences, and higher risk of intergenerational cycles of poverty.” The report said that the burden of child marriage was shifting to sub-Saharan Africa, where more progress was needed to offset population growth. Unicef said nearly one in three child marriages were now in sub-Saharan Africa, compared with one in five a decade ago. World leaders have vowed to end child marriage by 2030 under the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Ms Malhotra said that to meet that target, efforts had to be stepped up “to prevent millions of girls having their childhoods stolen through this devastating practice.”
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