Girls Living in “Face – me – I – Face – You” at Risk

“Face-me-I – Face – You” houses are overcrowded living quarters where occupants share bathrooms, kitchen and compound. It is not uncommon to see a family of ten share just one room. It is a community of constant fights and chaos. People who live in such a place are usually low income earners who struggle to make ends meet.

I remember we once lived in a face-me-I – Face- You compound while growing up. My father would insist that we do not go out of our house to play with children of other tenants in the compound. Instead we were kept busy reading our books and doing our little house chores. He then went a step further to purchase a betamax video cassette player and lots of cartoons to keep us busy. These we will stay glued to whenever our parents were not around.

One time I made the mistake of getting involved in settling fights between two children in the compound. I got the spanking of my life! Why because my dad did not want us to keep bad company plus I was supposed to be home already with my siblings after attending an evening coaching lesson. So you see it was getting dark and my poor dad didn’t know I was somewhere in the compound so he went in search of me at the lesson afraid something bad had happened to me. Hmmm… I will never forget the discipline I got.

Little did I know that my Dad was only trying to protect us from horrible things that could happen to girls like I and my siblings. I was under ten years and I had two other sisters as at that time. As soon as dad could afford it he got us an apartment with more privacy in safer environment.

Later I got to know about girls who were sexually abused by neighbors. Some of the perpetrators were young boys their age or male adults.

We were protected by our very vigilant parents who knew better. Unfortunately many parents of children who live in face-me – I – Face – You are so careless and some just don’t know the dangers lurking around to grab their daughters.

I have come across horrifying stories that I don’t want to even begin to talk about here. Everyday one girl is waylaid in her community and sexually abused. Most times it is one old man or silly boy in the compound/next door who abuse such vulnerable girls.

What is the way forward here? Why am I ranting? There is a serious need to educate parents at the grassroot level to pay more attention to the safety of their children.

Any practical suggestions of what we can all do? While at it please educate as many people you happen to meet in your community and neighborhood about this.

Girls need to be protected from sexual predators. It starts with you.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Girls are beautiful Just as they are – Stop the Cutting #FGMC

fgmc-beautiful-as-god-made-them
My daughter and friends from church

6th  of February has been set aside as the International day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting. Recently through the awareness on FGMC created by the radio drama serial, “Pim Pim Pim”, three girls ran to their local church to prevent being circumcised. Fortunately their local Pastor had the number put out on radio and so he called the line. The girls have since been rescued. Child protection is working on their case.

If only more parents will protect girls from having their vagina cut in the name of tradition.
This is still an issue in many communities in different parts of the world.

Some Reasons why it is practiced:
* FGMC is believed to be a girl’s right of passage to womanhood in many communities where it is practiced.
* To prevent a girl/woman from being promiscuous.
* To show chastity in a woman and therefore bring honor to her family.

Cost of Not Circumcising a Girl
* It is a cultural practice that is entrenched so much in communities where it is practice. Any girl who is not circumcised will not have a man willing to marry her.
* It is believed that such a girl/woman is loose. This tarnishes hers and her family’s image in the community.

Effect of FGMC on the wellbeing of a girl/woman
* Bleeding and loss of life
* Infection that could lead to difficulty in achieving pregnancy later on in life
* Difficulty in enjoying sex becomes a source of conflict between the woman and her husband.
* Mutilated vagina
* Complications during child birth

How can we stop this practice?

Engaging communities in the discussion about Female Genital Mutilation and cutting.

Creating more awareness that FGMC has no benefit

FGMC does not prevent promiscuity. There are girls who were circumcised and still keep chains of men.

Speak up and do more to STOP FGM/C

UN Women Statement on this year’s (2017) International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Children’s Day Special: What a Girl must need Know – She didn’t know Girls menstruated until age 30+

There are a number of things a growing child should know and the home is the one  place children are taught and equipped with skills they need to cope with life as adults.

Camera 360
A girl like any other girl

Imagine a girl never knowing about menstruation until she became 30+ years old. This is not fiction but someone’s real life’s story. She was given in marriage just about when she started to get to  puberty. This lady had her babies in quick successions and while breast feeding she never menstruated. And so at 30+ years old  she found herself bleeding and thought something was wrong. She became worried visiting different doctors. Finally a  doctor asked her about when her last menstruation was and she stared back looking blank. It was discovered that she never knew that girls, women menstruated.

Seriously?!!! It is a bewildering story to me…i just felt it was so unfair! First her childhood was stolen from her by marrying her off so quickly then she never even got to learn the lessons of what attaining puberty means. How in heaven’s name would she even be able to teach her own girls what it means to menstruate and attain sexual maturity?

As a  parent take your children through the signs of puberty and allow your child especially the girl child to enjoy the process of becoming an adult.

As a mum i am going to teach my girl (and my boy of course) all she needs to know about her body and puberty. We seriously need to do more to prepare children for life by communicating needed information. Sexuality education is important, be there for your children as they go through the process of puberty.

Help STOP CHILD MARRIAGE!!!

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

 

Forced marriage of a 14year old in Kano- Freed but is she truly free yet?

ESE

The story of 14 year old Ese who was forcefully married to Yunusa a young man in Kano is all over the media in Nigeria. Yinusa abducted her in Bayelsa from her mum’s shop in 2015. Whether she was coerced or forcefully taken is still a matter yet to be unraveled. In my opinion even if she was coerced into following the young man it still does not exonerate Yunusa’s actions. The young girl was not matured enough to make such serious decision on marriage. I remember the case of a 14year old like Ese whom i was privileged to intervene in her case as a social worker. The man who married her was 45years old. He lured her with gifts and sweet words into marrying him without her parent’s consent. First he started by approaching her on her way from school. Soon an abnormal friendship blossomed between a 45year old and a 13 year old. This man got her pregnant and asked for her hand in marriage but of course her parents refused blatantly in annoyance. The girl one day ran away to the man’s house to start living with him and the matter became a matter for police intervention and the man was charged for abducting a minor and marrying her unlawfully. While trying to work on this case it was obvious the girl did not understand the implication of this on her future and well-being.

It is sad to note that Ese’s parent had sort help from appropriate authorities in order to secure the release of their  girl but had to wait until eight months later. Only through the cry of the media and other human rights voices raised was Ese finally freed. Now Nigerians are demanding sanctions for those who held 14 year old Ese Oruru captive for eight months according to the PUNCH  Newspaper of 1st March, 2016 pg 4.

I am happy we get to  see a day when girls like Ese are fought for and  protected by society’s one voice because that is what got her this freedom. There are many other young girls like her who have been forced into marriage through deception, pressure from their families to help sort out a financial mess; coercion, kidnapping and more.

The question on my mind is this, is Ese truly free?! What i mean by this is that Ese will need more than just her freedom physically from the clutches of Yunusa and a medical test. Attention should be paid to the effect this forced marriage and removal from her home must have on her emotionally and psychologically. If it  is not properly taken care of might mar her future.

The law says anyone who marries a child is liable to a fine of N500,000 or 5yearsimprisonment or both. Yes Yunusa and all those who helped him will hopefully be made to  face the wrath of the law to serve as deterrents to others but Ese need to undergo therapy and serious rehabilitation. This is because a child who is forced into marriage is no longer a child- her innocence has been stolen.

Take a look a few effects of forced marriage on Girls like Ese:

Her Childhood  and innocence is stolen

It truncates a girl’s education

She becomes economically dependent on her spouse which leaves in the state of poverty.

She is Isolated from  peers and friends

Becomes sexually active

Birth complications

She is exposed to sexually transmitted diseases

She can be psychologically affected: fear of men because of forced penetration during sexual intercourse

Exposure to violence as the spouse has power over her

Long life emotional and psychological trauma.

So now would Ese get all the help she needs to be fully rehabilitated emotionally and psychologically? Are her parents equipped to help her recover and move on with her life? We have to go beyond running Ese’s story in the media because it is a juicy human rights issue that can make all the  actors politically correct. Someone needs to help Ese beyond her freedom!!

Another thing that Ese’s story forces me to take a look at is the role of parents and every adult in protecting their children/girls from predators like Yunusa. I wondered whether her parents did not see the signs of Yunusa’s attempt at luring their daughter. As we put it where i come from, “what were they looking at” when the young  man abducted her. Every mother and father need to be more sensitive and do more in protecting their girls from predators like Yunusa. Our role as parents is not just to  provide food, shelter and other basic needs for our children. We are worldly wiser because we have been around longer than they are therefore we need to pay attention to signs from adults around us who could constitute harm to our kids. We need to continually dialogue with our children and warn them about people who could lure them into doing things that would mar their future.

As a mother my heart goes out to Ese, i truly hope that she would get all the help she needs to help her forge a better future. May her woes become her spring board to a greater and brighter future.

Please help share this post and tag it as: Help Ese get proper rehabilitation.

Adebisi Adetunji

 

 

 

 

A butterfly trapped in a school bus

Butterfly

A butterfly, beautiful but fragile
A butterfly helping with the pollination process
Beautiful flowers flourish as it moves from one nectar to the other.
A butterfly flies by my window, makes me  smile
Out in the fields children try to catch a butterfly from the many beautiful ones floating around. Butterfly 2

A hand catches a butterfly but on opening it,
The wings were crushed, the little girl felt sad and started to cry
Oh my beautiful butterfly is crushed

A four year old beautiful butterfly was deflowered by a bus driver who took her to school everyday so it went in a  news report.Then i decided to read further about the story. It came down to a horrifying detail. The news report says that the bus driver raped her on a table in her classroom!!! Where were the teachers? Who leaves a toddler in her class alone to be molested by the school bus driver?! Did he drop off all the other students before this incidence? What is the school’s yard stick for employing its drivers?  Many questions besieged my mind. Can’t a parent even feel safe with his or her ward’s school bus service, i asked myself.

On the other hand there are parents who do not engage the services of a school bus. They simply refuse to see the need to ensure that their children get to school safely. I find it amazing that a woman who has a small shop or sells Ate ties a wrapper early in the morning and sends of her 3year – 7year old to school by himself or herself. That is what i see in some Adugbo close by me. These same children would have to cross a quite busy road to get to their school. Soon it will be in the news that a car crushed some school students trying to cross the road by themselves! Or a young child gets raped in some lonely pathway between her house and school. Some would engage the services of an Okada rider to take and bring back their kids to and fro school. This morning i saw two girls on an Okada with the rider struggling to get a balance on a very busy road. A trio danger is involved here: accident, kidnap and rape of such girls by a depraved minded okada rider.

Seriously we need to make going to and been in school safer for children!

Photo Credit: Blue Butterfly- Clipart Panda

Photo 2: Royalty Free stock photo thank you for sharing- dreamstime.com

Word Glossary

Wrapper: Big and colourful or plain  West African clothing that can be tied around a woman’s waist like a wrap skirt.

Ate: Petty trading items like biscuits, sweets, tomatoes, etc displayed on a stand or tray.

Adugbo: Neighborhood

Okada: Nigerian local slogan for motorcycle

Okada Rider: Motorcycle rider

Adebisi Adetunji

Sexual Rights of any Child

OLOLADE'S PICTURE 3
Art Work: Two Girls and a boy in a bedroom with their mother.

Every child has the right to sex education

Every child needs a listening and available parent

Every child has a right of protection from sexual predators

Every child needs a parent to watch out for house helps with a tendency to abuse that child

Every child has a right to be safe from an uncle, cousin or teacher’s sexual abuse

Every child deserve the right to be able to talk about any unwanted physical touch without being blamed for it

Every child has a right to be protected from pornography. I remember an adult who came on holiday’s to our home who made us watch pornography

Every child has a right to feel safe around her father without fear of being molested

Every child who has been  abused sexually deserve to be shown love and given the necessary therapy to overcome the trauma.

Every sexual predator of children must be made to  face the full consequence of this action under the law

Every child deserve to mature before being married off

Every child who has been sexually assaulted need the adults in their life to take care of the source of the assault quickly.

Stories of fathers who rape their daughters like this one: Father, 40, sexually abuses, 7-year-old daughter. is despicable, heartbreaking and needs to absolutely STOP! Lets join our voices in speaking and taking action against every child sexual abuse.

Photo Credit: Ololade Adetunji (An art done in Primary 4 at Graceful Oaks Nursery and Primary School, Ibadan)

Adebisi Adetunji