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Abuse of the Girl-Child in Africa
 
 
continent of expressions - AFRICA
afrostylemagazine cover december 2008

Photography: Jason Maddox
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afro style mag | articles 2010
my reality

h

n recent times around the globe, there are actions by men that have captured the attention of governments, institutions, and organizations like the United Nations, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). Frantic efforts are being made to arrest a variety of societal ills, and many of these problems successfully respond to antidotes. However, one issue that has defied solution, especially in the Developing Nations, is the hydra-headed problem of child abuse as it affects the girl-child.

african child

Governments at the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child signed, among other things, to ensure that: (1) The child, for the full harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding; and (2) Every child must be protected from indecent and in-human treatment through sexual exploitation, drug abuse, labor, torture, maltreatment and neglect. With all the “ho-ha” that attended the resolutions at the UN Convention, most of the Developing Nations do not have the political will to enforce these rights in their respective countries. Many members of the predominant political class, security agents, and the affluent are part of the problem that mitigate against the passing of Bills that would ensure the girl-child is fully protected from the vagaries of their respective societies. How well have the Developed and the Developing Nations, the affluent, and the needy members of the different countries that signed up at the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child adhered to their decisions?

Globally, the scourge and abuse of the girl-child has taken center stage in most nations. Some nations have made strenuous efforts to combat this societal ill and campaigns have been mounted to arrest the spiraling deviancies that often go a long way in molding the girl-child - The Mother of Tomorrow. In the Western world, girl-child abuse is deemed to be nearly eradicated and any perpetrator, if caught, is adequately punished. Although in most of the Developed Nations, it is assumed that this malady is the bane of the underprivileged hence the exclusive preserve of the Developing Nations.

 

In Developing Nations, when the governments deign it proper to tackle the menace, the affluent think that the malady is merely the problem of the poor. So when the discussion of girl-child abuse is tackled, such as cases of hundreds of thousands of young girls being delivered into sex trade due to the abject poverty into which they are born and reared, the discussion is primarily centered on the victims' level of poverty, further implying that it is easy for the poor to fall prey to such societal ills. Developing Nations place emphasis on solving the problem of the poor by family planning: proper spacing of children, and fewer number of the children born to a couple, on the premise that once these targets are achieved, girl-child abuse would disappear. The fact that the girl-child abuse is hydra-headed (still quite rampant in both the Developed and Developing Nations) and is no respecter of family size or type: large, small, upper class, middle class or third class, girl-child abuse knows no boundary. Like AIDS, it strikes anywhere, anyone, anyhow, and at any time once the germ exists.african child

The reason some of the menace is less virulent in the Developed Nations and among the affluent is because women, both in the Civil Society Organizations, and in the NGOs in the Developed Nations have fought hard over the years to secure justice for their gender and have done much to ensure that laws are enacted that would curtail the excesses of deviants in order to safeguard the girl-child. Unfortunately, their counterparts in the Developing Nations are not as passionate, although a few are struggling to change things. Sadly, the cultures, the women, and the religious bodies are all part of the stumbling blocks that prevent help coming to the girl-child. The menace, even with the valiant efforts of the Developed Nations, has refused to be lidded. The Developing Nations should pick up the gauntlet and strive to really put a lid on the problems bedeviling them. If this issue is not tackled in the nearest future, the Mothers of Tomorrow would end up being counted as endangered species. Sadly, a lot of deviants from the Developed Nations, because of stringent laws enacted in their countries to protect the girl-child, go to the Developing Nations to contaminate these unfortunate poverty stricken young girls, luring them and their parents with scarce money. Many of the little girls fall victims to HIV/AIDS and other sex related maladies. Some are simply murdered or fall victims to the modern day slave trade. Some security agents in these Developing Nations also collude with these deviants either foreign or indigene, to despoil the girl-child because of the lucre they get from the despicable men.

It is imperative that we unite as a global body of One to end the cycle of violence against the girl-child. Both men and women should take the lead in protecting our world’s most valuable natural resource: little girls – The Mothers of Tomorrow.

 

 

Ngozi Onyioha-Orji.

 

Photos by Paula Modersohn-Becker and Shirley Charlton