Fred Itua, Abuja
A leading anti Sexual and Gender Based Violence Movement – Men Against Rape (MAR), has described the Nigerian Girl Child as fearsomely talented personality, but held back from attaining her potential because of the limitations placed on her by the society.
This is coming as the world marks the International Day of the Girl Child. It said societal norms and stereotypes in Nigeria were tilted to work against the girl child
In statement issued by the convener of the Movement (MAR), Lemmy Ughegbe and Communication Director, Ben Ubiri, they observed that despite the many societal impediments, the Nigerian Girl Child has demonstrated a genuine ambition to find her voice.
“The Nigerian society has used norms and societal stereotypes to restrict the aspirations of the girl child. Imagine that in the 21st century, women are still told that certain jobs and professions are not for them,” Ughegbe and Ubiri lamented.
“While we note with pride the determination of the girl child to shatter those societal barriers and stereotypes, we must raise our voices to seek an end to the laws and societal norms which seek to subdue her and make it difficult for her to breathe,” they added.
The duo noted that “the knee of oppression has been on the neck of the Nigerian Girl Child for too long, shocking her and wanting to take her breathe away. But she has continued to struggle under that shocking knee hold to her neck.”
“We must all rise to remove that knee from her neck, allow her catch her breath and pursue her purpose in any field of interest unfettered. Men Against Rape Movement is determined to see to the end of oppression of the girl child and will continue to lead the way,” they noted.
They called for the urgent need to amend the penal code to properly take care of the interest of the girl child, stating that at present it exposes the girl child to being deprived of education as she can be removed from school at age 14 or even less for the purpose of marriage.
They also urged states Houses of Assembly to domesticate the Violence Against Peoples Prohibition Act and the Child Rights Act in order to protect the girl child.
The Movement, which was founded by Make A Difference Initiative, said it was working out modalities for a nationwide trip to address State Houses of Assembly on laws and reforms needed to empower the girl child and protect her also from Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
“Our movement is committed to safe spaces for children and will continue to seek fair and equitable opportunities for the girl child because we know if given the right atmosphere can achieve great feat like her male counterpart,” they stated.