The Girl Child/Woman is entitled to be treated as worthy of respect and concern, even when she err at the sight of the law, due process, caution, and respect must be taken in responding to such situations.Tweet
The girl child is entitled to be treated as worthy of respect and concern, even when they err at the sight of the law, due process, caution, and respect must be taken in responding to such situations, the girl child should not be subject to degrading and inhumane treatment as it undervalues the girl child, reduce their sense of security, diminishes their self-esteem and pushes that girl far down the ladder of equality and society as a whole.
Just recently the internet was flooded with videos of a lecturer of the federal university of Lafia and his daughter assaulting and stripping a student of the Federal University of Lafia. It was reported that as a result of the out roar of people condemning such action the Nasarawa State Police Command has arrested the lecturer/father, Dr. Fred Ekpa Ayokhai, and his daughter Emmanuela for the said assault. Preliminary investigation revealed that Emmanuela and the victim had a misunderstanding over a man named IG. The victim had accused Emmanuela of snatching her supposed boyfriend and assaulting her after refusing to delete his number from her phone, which was evidenced in a video that went viral earlier. In retaliation, Emmanuella mobilized her family, went after the victim, and assaulted her as well. She was hit with a stick, flogged, and stripped. The Commissioner of Police directed that those arrested be charged to court upon the conclusion of the investigation at the State Criminal Department, Lafia.
In a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nansel Rahman, all the suspects were arraigned before Justice Aisha Bashir-Aliyu, the Chief Judge of Nasarawa State in Lafia. The statement which reads in part said: “Dr. Fred Ekpa-Ayokhai, 53-year-old; Emmanuela Ayokhai, 18-year-old; Bob Praise Ayokhai, 23-year-old; and Saint-Dan Ayokhai 21-year-old were on October 26, 2022, arraigned at High Court 1, Nasarawa State before Justice Aisha Bashir-Aliyu, the Chief Judge of Nasarawa State on six (6) count charge of criminal conspiracy, housebreaking, and criminal force or assault to a woman with intent to outrage modesty, Kidnapping and Inflicting Physical Injury on another.” The offenses listed above are punishable under Section 97 of the Penal Code Law of Northern Nigeria, Section 3(1) and 4 of the Nasarawa State Kidnapping (Prohibition) Law, 2019, Section 268 (2) and 354 of the Penal Code Law of Northern Nigeria and Section 3 (1) of the Nasarawa State Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Law, 2019.
In all of this, the dignity of women is challenged despite the avalanche of laws and international human rights instruments that protect women’s right to dignity as members of the human family. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights even though is just declaratory, enshrined human dignity in its preamble thus: ‘Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights [ACHPR] recognizes that human beings are inviolable and that every human being is entitled to respect of his life and the integrity of his/her person. Similarly, in our local instruments, every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity inherent in the human person, and this includes the prohibition of all forms of torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment or treatment. Importantly, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria proclaims the right of the dignity of the human person in the social objectives in Chapter Two of the Constitution, it provides that in furtherance of social order, the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced”. However, the provisions of Chapter Two of CFRN cannot be enforced. Among the range of rights provided for in Chapter four of the CFRN, the right to dignity of the human person comes next to the right to life to underscore the importance attached to human dignity. The 1999 Constitution provides as follows:
Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of the human person, and accordingly –
(a) no person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment;
(b) no person shall be held in slavery or servitude; and
(c) no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labor.
Lastly, The Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 (VAPPA), even though applicable only in the FCT, in its explanatory memorandum, also prohibits all forms of violence against persons in private and public life, and provides maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders. From the above provisions, it is clear that the right to dignity of individuals including the girl child in Nigeria is recognized and guaranteed. However, when it comes to actual enforcement, it appears that Nigeria has not done enough to ensure the protection of the right to dignity of the human person especially women given the recent incidents like the incident above and the more recent occurrence of the Enugu Widow Mrs. Anthonia Okwonkwo who was beating and stripped by some youth as reported by Vanguard November 4th, 2022 for allegedly stealing snails to sell from the sacred forest. Therefore, there is an eminent need to appraise the violations of the right of women that occur in Nigeria daily and the extent to which law has responded to ensure that women’s dignity is respected in Nigeria.
The right to dignity of women as members of the human family, is a fundamental right entrenched in the 1999 constitution and other legal and international instruments.Tweet
Get girls equal opposes patriarchal systems that seek to control the lives and sexuality of girls and women, lower their status and are used to justify violence against them.Tweet
The Girls Get Equal Nasarawa State has also discovered on research, that the incidence of sexual abuse, sex trade, sexual exploitation, and indecent exposure of young girls as young as 13-18 years old has also led to incidences of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and assault, growing astronomically in especially the north, and Nasarawa state has not been exempted from this trend, there is growing concern by parents, adult and the Girls Get Equal at the rate at which young girls are exposed sexual practices and sex trade (having sex with older men for money called Hook Up) leading to sexual exploitation, rape, abuse, and assaults. A conversation with a middle age young lady revealed how her younger sister who was 13 years was engaged in this practice. Another interview revealed several others engaged in this practice as well, while others claimed their motivation was making money to take care for their need and their family others revealed it was peer pressure. With great emphasis and concern, this has exposed girls to more risk of being sexually abused, exploited, and assaulted, and has also led to the objectification of women as commercial objects, as a result leading to an increase in the power and influence of a patriarchal system, resulting to more gap between both sexes and leading to continues increase on how girls are undervalued, undermined and underestimated. This has led to more depth to be closed up in achieving the mission to get girls equal and empower them, because where young ladies have power in all decisions affecting their lives; they are safe to speak up without fear and harassment.
Girls and Women have the right to bodily autonomy and to control their sexuality.Tweet
in conclusion, The Get Girls Equal opposes patriarchal systems that seek to control the lives and sexuality of girls and women, lower their status and are used to justify violence against them. We recognize that girls and women have the right to bodily autonomy and to control their sexuality. To end gender-based violence, we believe that these prevailing systems of power must be challenged and changed. Together with this is the need to enforce penalties on perpetrators of violence to serve as a deterrent.
1. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
2. ACHPR 1981. It entered into force on 21 October 1986.
3. The Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 (VAPPA).
4. 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (C.F.R.N) as amended
5. Vanguard, October 22, 2022, https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/10/lecturer-daughter-arrested-for-allegedly-brutalising-20-yr-old-student/
6. Patience Ogbodo – Iwuagwu, Woman Stripped Naked Cries Out, Says I didn’t Pick Snails From Sacred Site, Nov 5, 2022, The Independent. https://independent.ng/woman-stripped-naked-cries-out-says-i-didnt-pick-snails-from-sacred-site/