The Girl Child, An Endangered Specie in the 21st Century Nigeria: Public Lecture & Book Launch by Fill in the Gaps Outreach

The utmost responsibility of any nation is to provide security for her citizens – Prof. Stella Odebode.

As the world marked another “Day of the Girl Child” on 11th October 2018, there were many activities organized by individuals, organizations, and groups to draw attention to the challenges beguiling and preventing girls from achieving their potentials. It was also to bring to fore practices that harm the girl child’s physical and psychological well-being and to seek solutions to ending these inhuman treatments such as rape, sexual violence, abduction and kidnap, sex slavery, early marriage, lack of equal rights to education and opportunities, domestic abuse, child slavery and Female Genital Mutilation(FGM).

One of such organization, “The Fill in the Gap Outreach(NGO)”, brought together various stakeholders; students, parents and guardians, policy makers, Community leaders, development partners, and the media to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child through a public lecture. The CEO, Princess Aderonke Olajide in her opening remarks said that one of the organization’s goal is premised on filling the gaps created by unexpected pregnancy which occurs in the life of some girls for whatever reason. Fill in the Gaps provide support for such girls through ensuring safe delivery of their babies and ensuring they go back to school/learn a skill.
An interesting, informative and eye-opening lecture titled, “The Girl Child as an Endangered Species in the 21st Century Nigeria was delivered by Prof. Stella Odebode, Director Gender Mainstreaming office, University of Ibadan.

A cross of school girls present at the Fill in the Gap Outreach Public lecture

A few take away points from the lecture:

  • Globally 60% of girls are denied education as opposed to boys who are 40%.
  • Rape and sexual violence is a global phenomenon that needs to be continually addressed. Students are sexually molested by teachers, headmasters and other people who are supposed to be carers.
  • Perpetrators are hardly prosecuted which promotes the culture of silence.
  •  Parents need to be very sensitive and conscious of any signs that anyone is attempting to abuse their wards particularly extended family members living with them.
  • Prevalence of Child marriage and young mothers: According to a study carried out by Prof. Stella Odebode in Igbo Ora, Oyo state there is a prevalence of young mothers ages 11, 12 and above.
  • There is an increased incidence of school dropout and unwanted pregnancy in girls.
  • 1 in 4 children is reported as having an incidence of sexual violence.
  •  In some parts of Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before age 18. In some other parts, 15% are married off before age 15.
  • Key ailments of girls exposed to early marriage are VVF, Anemia, High Blood pressure, premature births and even death in some cases.

Solutions

The Chairman of the occasion – Dr. Mike Omotosho , PDG, D9125, AKS Rotary International, dressed in his Ghanian royal title in a pix pose with the convener & CEO, Fill in the Gaps Outreach – Princess Aderonke Olajide
  • All maternity and orphanage homes should be dully registered to nib in the board criminal activities that expose children particularly girls to any form of sexual exploitation and abuse.
  • Speak up and do something about that your neighbor who is abusing his/her housemaid or child. If you notice something isn’t right and a life is endangered, do not mind your business. Remember that it could be you or your child.

You are standing under the shade of a tree because someone planted it – Warren Buffet

Dignitaries at the Lecture

Dr. Mike Omotosho, PDG, D9125, AKS Rotary International – Chairman.
Her Excellency, Omolewa Yetunde Ahmed- First Lady of Kwara State – Special guest of Honour
Prof. Stella Odebode – Guest Lecturer
Mr. Oluwarotimi O. Martins – MD/CEO Midway Airlines – Chief Launcher
Chief Mrs. Ranti Koiki – CEO, Fawzy Hotels, Nigeria – Guest of Honour
Alh. Mohammed Bello – Zonal Director, FRCN Ibadan Zonal station – Guest of Honor
Asiwaju Abdlrazaq Shittu – President/Chairman, Skysite Offshore Access (WA)Ltd – Father of the Day
Princess Olabisi Sangodoyin

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Every Child Has a Right to Education & Quality Life

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As a parent or guardian you have a duty to provide for and protect your child. Do not burden your son/daughter with your responsibility. Plan to have only the number of children you can cater for.

Every child has a right to be cared for and provided for.
Every child deserves to live in a safe environment in order to achieve his or her potential.
Every child has a right to provision of basic needs
Every child has a right to protection
Every child has a right to quality life & education. 

Say No to Child Labor

Say No to Child Abuse 

Now that Schools are in session, ensure that your child is enrolled and regularly attends school. 

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Our World has Gone Mad!!! What can We Do About It?

Credits: Shutterstock

Some time ago a man was seen early in the morning when people were rushing to get to work carrying a little child who was kicking and crying. Everyone passed by as they went about their business but one man noticed and decided to challenge the man carrying the child. The man just dropped the child and ran. He had abducted that child as soon as her mum dropped her off at the school gate!

The world has become more complex as our once simpler and innocent way of life is a mixed bag of mistrust, horror, and chaos. We now want to satisfy our appetite at any cost. The syndrome of anything that makes me happy even when it hurts others. Selfishness and wickedness(forgive my strong language) is the picture that we see on our news screens every day. Sometimes even though I work with a media organization, I feel like shutting out the news headlines that evade the social media, TV, radio, and newspapers. This is because fellow human beings seem to craft and carry more terrible wicked schemes. Will this ever end?

Such news as that of the rape and murder of young Zainab Ansari In Pakistan is really disheartening. As I watched her picture on the placards of those protesting in her community, I couldn’t but feel an awful chill. One camera did catch her abductor on tape and the horror of it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. “You dare not trust your child even with a supposed trusted neighbor”, it didn’t use to be so! I thought to myself.

I remember as a child my parents could just leave us in the care of a friend or neighbor while running errands or on days they have a function we couldn’t accompany them on. They did not fear us being molested by anyone. In fact, as a child up to my teenage level, you were afraid of your mum or dad’s friends seeing you engaged in anything that your parents didn’t approve of. They will definitely make sure that your parents hear about it! Now neighbors, friends and even close family members abuse those in their care sexually to a point where organs are damaged or a life is lost!

I also remember times when I was sick as a teenager when our family doctor would examine me. My mother didn’t have to stay in the examining room and the doctor did not take advantage of me! Now I won’t dream of living my daughter or my son for that matter with a doctor alone especially if it has to with getting undressed to examine him/her.

My Advice on ways you can protect your child:

  • Don’t be careless. Walk with your child to school especially younger children.
  • Keep an eye on your children.
  • Stop living your child with just anyone. some of us parents even leave them with a lesson teacher and you go out doing your business… Haaa! I hear some even leave their house key with lesson teacher who sleeps in the house when such parents travel on business! Haaaaaa… Danger raises to power 100!!😱😱
  • Teach your child what to look out for in identifying predators.
  • Remind your child about the golden rule of not talking to strangers.
  • Stop minding your business if you notice something abnormal about an adult holding a child or a stranger taking away your neighbor’s children do Something!!!

Seriously parents pay attention, stop been in hurry to go about your tasks forgetting to take those little but safe precautions.

Every child has a right to life and protection

Adebisi Adetunji(c)

 

Njideka Ekuma Mbam: She Ran and Her Whole Community Had to Make A Decision

There are stories that you hear and it just gladens your heart in a warm way. And when something you were a part of contributes to the success of the story then you get a sense of fulfillment that you have made a difference in someone’s life. The telephone number featured on the FGMC sensitization radio drama “Pim Pim Pim” became a life line to people who attempted to get help for three girls on the run.

Njideka had listened to education talks about the negative effects of female genital mutilation and cutting also known as female circumcision on girls in school and in church. In her community girls must go through the rite of female circumcision to attain womanhood and soon the drums heralding her time to be cut began to sound.

A few days to her being circumcised Njideka ran to protect herself. Two other girls joined her. A series of event took place which finally lead to the IZZI community abandoning FGMC. Njideka is indeed a brave girl and a hero in the fight against a harmful cultural practice. Here is a short video telling her story and that of her community:

Adebisi Adetunji (C) BusyBee Media for Social Change & Development. Email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com twitter – @DebisiBusybee 

CIRDDOC : Advocacy and Behavior Change Messages Development Workshop to Accelerate Abandonment of FGMC – Understanding Why FGMC is still in Practice.

The campaign to end female genital mutilation and cutting (FGMC) has been on for many years, yet it is still been practiced by many people and communities across the world. Statistics show that FGMC is practiced in about 28 countries across the world. It is said that 3million girls are at risk of being cut per year. This then is a serious problem.

Why all the hulabulah about ending FGMC or female circumcision as some people say, after all boys are also circumcised? It is different in the sense that this practice is a violation of the human/sexual rights of the girl child and women on many levels.

A girl is primarily cut in the vagina because society does not want her to be promiscuous; it is a right of passage to womanhood; a guarantee to be able to get married in the community. Cutting her clitoris or other parts of her vagina is meant to deaden any sexual urge that could make her look for a man to sleep with. No wonder then that after she gets married, she cannot achieve sexual satisfaction. This becomes a problem in the relationship as the man becomes also dissatisfied and looks for sexual enjoyment from other women.

A story in point: A man got married to a woman, not from his tribe where girls are circumcised. At first, this wasn’t an issue for him as he simply loved her and wanted to marry her. Many years later after they have both had children he suddenly wakes up one day to say that he wanted her to get circumcised. What changed? His family put pressure on him that it was their custom to cut their girls and women therefore since she is married to their son, she had to go through it. In order to save her marriage, this woman went ahead to be circumcised. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain she went through at such an adult age. Soon afterward the couple began to have issues with their sex life. As I write this the marriage collapsed as the man went in search of sexual satisfaction elsewhere. This woman was whole why cut her and create problems?

Why Behavioral Change is difficult: Points of discussion in the Workshop

  • Behavioral or attitudinal change takes time because it has to do with a belief system which would probably have been in practice for a long time. People do not change easily but with continuous dialogue and sensitization then a change is possible.
  • There is need to also understand why people or communities practice FGMC. Contrary to beliefs it is not intended to harm the girl but to celebrate her womanhood in many communities. Unfortunately, the adverse effects on the life of women, girls, and families are enormous. This include birth complications.
  • Engaging in dialogue and continuous intervention programs with practitioners will help to convince and change stereotype minds.
  • Medicalization of the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting : it has been discovered that some health workers in some communities encourage this practice. This is because they also come from such background and believe in upholding this culture. Messages targeted at making it clear it is unethical was designed to reach this group.
  • To achieve Behavioral change on any issue or practice there is need to create effective messages in appropriate formats in order to reach the target audience.
  • It is necessary to make an assessment from time to time the progress made in bringing about the attitudinal change.

 At the workshop on Advocacy & behavioral Change messages to accelerate the abandonment of FGMC participants’ drawn from various groups, professions from different parts of Nigeria assessed old messages to know whether they are appropriate and effective as new ones were developed.

If the practice of killing of twins and tribal marks could be abandoned then it is possible to end FGMC

 Facilitators :
Benjamin C. Mbakwem,
FGM/C Consultant for Ebonyi & Imo State
UNICEF Enugu Field Office
Phone: +(234)-803-3330586
Toyin Afachung,  Communication for Development Consultant
Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Woman To Woman Talk #23 She Won’t Let Them Do It!

Recently while talking to Mariam (not real name) who was delivered of her baby girl a few months ago, she revealed something that surprised me and I was touched. We were simply talking about certain cultural practices that are harmful to the wellbeing of our children. After she had her baby, a discussion between her mother-in-law and some older women took place. There was a plan to circumcise Mariam’s little girl but there was, however, a stumbling block. Mariam’s mother-in-law knew that she was stubborn and wondered what to do about ensuring that the old custom is upheld in the interest of her granddaughter or so it seems. One day this mother-in-law finally presented the matter to Mariam who stood her ground in refusing to have her daughter cut in the vagina. An argument ensued but Mariam prevailed. She points blank told her mother-in-law that she would not allow anyone to cut her little girl! And I must also commend Mariam’s husband here who supported the decision not to allow their daughter to be cut. I mean he could have sanctioned the plan to do this in the name of not wanting to offend his family.

I was surprised that this practice of mutilating girls in their vagina was still been practiced amongst the educated elites. Often we think that some harmful practices that we try to create awareness about with the intention of ending it, is simply a problem common among the uneducated rural. This is not the case many times.

So dear woman, do not sit on the fence thinking that there is nothing you can do about ending any form of abuse or practice that can be harmful to your child. Yes, a lot of times, particularly in our strong African cultural heritage men, decide something’s but this is not to say you should not speak up when it is a matter of what could harm you or your child.

Speaking up and saying NO, is the first step in protecting our girls from child marriage, female genital mutilation and cutting(FGMC) and other forms of harmful practices.

This post was inspired by discussions from a workshop on Advocacy & behavior Change Messages Development to abandonment of FGMC that I am participating in. It is put together by Civil Source Development & Documentation Cenre(CIRDDOC) Nigeria in partnership with UNFPA

Adebisi Adetunji (c)