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NAWOJ, others seek better deal for girl child

By Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta), Segun Olaniyi (Abuja) and Ijeoma Thomas-Odia (Lagos)   |   12 October 2016   |   1:30 am

 Ifeyinwa Omowole

Ifeyinwa Omowole

Governments at all levels have been urged to put in place a law that would protect the girl child from sexual and domestic violence. This was the view of speakers, yesterday, at an event to mark this year’s International Day of the Girl Child in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.The programme was packaged by Priceless Jewel Foundation (PJF).

Speakers included African Union International Observer, Mojisola Florence Akinsanya, who regretted no “concrete” law in the country protected the girl child from domestic violence.

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl Child is: ‘The Power of Adolescent Girls in Breaking the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty, Violence, Exclusion, Discrimination and Achieving Equitable and Sustainable Development Outcomes’.

“There must be a law that can help to protect the girl child in this country, so that they won’t always feel inferior and naive in the society,” she said.

Akinsanya who spoke on, ‘Sexual violence among adolescents in Nigeria: causes, effects and mode of prevention’, said protecting the girl child was not the responsibility of parents alone but also the government.

The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) also called on parents, especially mothers, to show more care for the girl child.The national president, Ifeyinwa Omowole, in a statement in Abuja, said the common practice was to view the girl child as assistant mother of the house. She said that putting her in charge of many chores was wickedness while boy the child played and engaged in recreational activities.

Founding Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said the world has a population of 1.1 billion girls, yet the girl child remains one of the most endangered species, as accepted social norms and discriminatory laws continued to allow harmful practices, such as child marriage.

She said: “The data speaks for itself. Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18. That is 28 girls every minute and one girl every two seconds. If there is no reduction in child marriage, the global number of child brides will reach 1.2 billion girls by 2050, with devastating consequences for girls, their families and their countries.”

Former Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Prof. Chioma Kanu-Agomo, noted that the girl child is disadvantaged physically, emotionally and psychologically. She is not in the position to make rational decisions for herself because she is underage and has not developed.

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