TRAVAILS OF THE GIRL-CHILD: A NIGERIAN CASE STUDY.

I could hardly stop laughing as the dialogue and images from the movie ‘The Dictator’ cracked me up non-stop. The post- credit scenes were no less hilarious than the feature length movie and I was laughing hysterically. A particular dialogue however caught my attention and long after the images of the movie filtered out, I was still pondering on the dialogue.

“Are you having a boy or an abortion?”

This satirical movie many will find hilarious just highlighted the challenge of the girl child in Africa and a host of other regions.

The world has advanced beyond verbally stating the girl child be aborted at birth, but not much has changed with our actions towards the girl child and the female gender. In four months’ time, on the 11th of October to be precise, the world will be celebrating UN’s International Day of the Girl Child. A day specially set aside to celebrate the girl child, highlight their rights, and speak out on the challenges the girl child faces globally.

Sitting pretty atop the challenges list is the threat to the girl child’s life, a threat synonymous with abortion is Rape and Sexual assault. There has been a lots of protest in recent times, but one that has featured regularly and one of the most popular movement in the world in the past year is the #metoo movement. This movement highlights the constant harassment the female gender goes through at every turn of their lives. An anomaly millions of girls have come to accept as normal in their daily lives especially in Nigeria and Africa.

The girl child is at the risk of sexual harassment and rape from the moment they are born, a statistics that considerably differs from the number of harassment the boy child suffers. The cases of the girl child sexual harassment and rape are way higher than cases that involves the boy child, especially when some traditions and culture allow child marriages which harms majorly the girl child in ways we can’t describe.

While a lot of education and reorientation has begun in the past couple of years, a more active stand from the society is still required to ensure the girl child can grow up and move about without fear of being raped or harassed.

The goal is to ensure every girl child has the freedom to be themselves without any mental or emotional blockade caused by traumas of sexual molestation.

Another challenge the girl child faces is the lack of education and stereotyping that comes with the role of the girl child in the society. Nigeria has been lucky to have had feminist champions and heroines such as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Stella Adadevoh, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Queen Amina of Zaria, Queen Moremi, Chimamanda Adichie, and so many more notable champions of female rights. But so much more still needs to be done to fully change the society’s view of the girl child.

The girl child from the early age is conditioned to train herself in such a manner as to ensure that she is a ‘good wife material’ for a delectable young man someday, while the boy child is trained to chase relentless success after success. This success will guarantee his freedom to choose from a host of unmarried young girls out there, anyone he desires for his pleasure and marital kingdom. But the girl child must hope she is found desirable for the selection, so she keeps on working on herself continuously to the point of mental slavery until she becomes a ‘good wife material’ worthy of selection. It makes it sound like a big beauty pageant where the lady must impress the horde of ogling male judges to be declared a winner, and her prize is the glorious and honorable title of ‘MRS’ which she can gladly add to her name now.

Maybe the process isn’t as crude as described, but the concept is still pretty much the same. A lady is trained to look up to marriage and creation of her own family as one of the noblest aspirations she can aspire to. It’s okay if she wants to cure cancer along with it, or end global poverty but it’s all moot and void without the ‘crowning glory of being a wife and a mother’.

It’s the 21st century and the society must learn to do better. We must do better in raising children (both male and female) that are inspired to achieve success in whatever field they find themselves. The intellectual bar must be set high enough for both gender, and it is okay to encourage the girl child to attain their dreams no matter how out of the box we might consider it to be.

After all, the goal is to leave a better, happier and educated future and not one that seems not to have grown from the stone ages.

Jasmiin

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