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

There are No Real Winners in War – Dr. Denis Mukwege #2018NobelPeacePrize

Photo Credit: From the Film – The Man who Mends Women

This piece is written in honour of a man who has done so much to bring healing and hope to women who suffered sexual violence in war. Dr Denis Mukwege was jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize with Nadia Murad. As I said in a previous post, The Possibility of ending Sexual Violence – Nadia Murad 

I could never hope to capture their pain, agony, struggles and tireless efforts at mending others and speaking up to get the international community and everyone in the world to end this war crime – Sexual violence/rape as a tool for war.

But I’d like to simply share their work and story briefly in the bid to say, “I salute your courage; thank you for giving yourself so others can live in a safer world”.

Why do humans engage in war? The very ancient reason centres around conquest of territories; power tussle; supremacy and control. At the heart of it all is man’s insatiable thirst for power and control of resources. A Yoruba saying states, “Ibere Ogun laa ri, ko seni mo ipari e”, meaning that one can only know how a war begins but no one knows how it will all end. This saying is usually quoted as a warning to control a conflict before it gets out of hand.
No one really wins a war because both sides suffer loss ranging from losing men, women and children; structural and economic destruction of their cities. Everyone will need to rebuild again often for many years and they may never fully recover from the effects and impact of the war. More worrisome are the emotional and psychological scars left on both the fighting men and civilian victims.

The Democratic Republic of Congo experienced great conflicts between soldiers and rebels which left the country terribly ravaged. The war lasted for decades and is referred to as the “The great African World War with the highest number of casualties since World War II. Sexual Violence was a weapon of War in eastern Congo for more than 20 years.

Those who suffered more are women and children who are beaten, raped and brutally treated by angry soldiers who use this physical assault as a weapon of war. Records show that in many war situations of various countries or communities sexual violence is increasingly been used as a weapon to inflict pain in war. After the war is over these women and girls are left battered emotionally and physically and even stigmatized by society. According to the findings of UN representative for Sexual Violence in conflict, Margot Wallstrom(2010) –  as a result of the war DRC was labelled the “Rape Capital” 

One man saw this need and decided to commit to providing support for these battered women. He is Dr Denis Mukwege who recently was jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner alongside Nadia Murad.

A Glimpse of Dr Denis Mukwege’s life and work 

Denis Mukwege is a medical doctor, who has made it his life’s mission to mend women who are victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo war. Dr Denis was inspired to become a doctor when he accompanied his father who was a pastor to visit various sick people in communities. He then went on to study medicine and specialized in gynaecology and obstetrics with the desire to provide services for women who experience birth complications. Another serious need arose as war ravaged his dear country; many women, girls and children faced a wave of brutality as they were raped by soldiers and rebel warlords. It was during this high conflict period that he founded the Panzi hospital. It is located in Bukavu the eastern part of Congo and was officially opened in 1999 by Dr Denis Mukwege. Panzi hospital is known for support for sexual violence survivors. He and his staff have carried out a gynaecological repair for over 40, 000 thousand women who were sexual violence victims in the Congolese conflicts and war.

His life was once threatened as he faced assassination attempt because of his advocacy work in creating awareness about stopping this war crime – sexual violence and bringing to book perpetrators. Dr Denis had to flee his country for a while before returning but while he was away staff continued treating survivors. At the Panzi hospital, each rape survivor is accompanied by a social assistant who works to create a tailor-made healing pathway which includes repair, psychological, legal and economic intervention programs.

I  once again salute Dr Denis Mukwege for his courageous and sacrificial efforts in bringing healing to these women and for his continued effort in the fight for women’s rights. He sure deserves this award. I end with his response to the award on Twitter:

This Nobel Prize is a recognition of the suffering of women victims of rape and sexual violence; the need for a just reparation in their favour and the hope to draw a red line against the use of rape in armed conflict.

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