Sometime ago a woman who had endured the pain of seeing her husband sexually molest their daughter couldn’t take it anymore, when he made similar attempts on the child (grand-daughter) he fathered with his daughter. This is what my people call Alu (Taboo). Here I was thinking this was new, only to read up a similar situation by a Social Worker in South Africa and I quote him “One of the saddest cases I’ve had to work with was a little girl, who was raped by her grandfather. The horrifying twist is that the man had fathered the child with his daughter, whom he had repeatedly raped as a child”.
Over the past few months, I’ve heard so many cases of sexual abuse on children; from the four year old Indian girl who was raped and eventually died to the recent eleven year old orphaned Nigerian who had a similar experience. The era we live in calls for drastic actions to be taken: to safe guard the rights of children.
African Committee of Experts on the Rights & Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), the treaty body established to monitor the implementation of the African Charter selects a theme annually for the Day of The African Child. In 2012 the theme was “The Rights of Children with Disabilities: The Duty to Protect, Respect, Promote and Fulfil”. With the instances mentioned above and many more led to the theme Eliminating Harmful Social & Cultural Practices Affecting Children: Our Collective Responsibility for this year’s Day of the African Child which is commemorated every year on the 16th of June by member states of the African Union. This has been celebrated since 1991 when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity now known as African Union. On the 16th of June 1976 in Soweto South Africa, young people took to the streets in a march protesting the poor quality of education as well as the right to be taught in their language. More than a hundred people were killed and thousands were wounded. This day has been set aside to honour the young heroes who stood up for their right.
Some of the Practices will be discussed below: –
- Female Genital Mutilation – This is often referred to as female circumcision. It involves surgical removal of parts or all of the most sensitive female genital organs. It is believed that by mutilating the female’s genital organs, her sexuality will be controlled, but above all it is to ensure a woman’s chastity and virginity before marriage and marital fidelity thereafter.
- Early and Forced Marriage
- Son Preference – The issue of producing an heir or di-okpara has sent many women out of their matrimonial homes even when they have female children.
- Virginity Testing and offering of young virgins to priests and children accused of witchcraft.
The question is, how do we step in to eliminate this evil? I went to buy something and this girl walks in, I wasn’t sure how old she was but she looked like a teenager but she’s on the big side. I’ll call her Alice. The guy selling kept on taunting her; calling her biggy and she kept on saying stop it, you know my name. I stepped in and spoke to the guy , when she left he said she has an eight month old baby and she’s only sixteen, out of school and God knows how damaged her self-image is. I ask, wasn’t someone accountable for that little girl whose innocence has been stolen. When will a law be passed for men who steal the innocence of little girls? The society turns around to speak ill of ladies not knowing some of them were violated early and couldn’t speak up because of society’s perception. What can we do as individuals?
I don’t have the magic wand that can right all these wrongs but educating these children goes a long way to expose them to their rights. Every girl-child has the right to go to school and choose a partner; Mutilation violates International Human Rights, every child irrespective of sex is a blessing from God. Let us all join this course; no one really has immunity. It just could be anyone.
The Day of the African Child came into existence after lives were lost during the protest; please let us not wait for another protest to step in. I’m tired of seeing sad and hungry faces representing African Children. We can change that perception; one child at a time. Start the revolution, enough of complains. Africa is a great continent and her children are exceptional; given the right and enabling environment she’ll flourish.
LOADS OF LOVE