Contrary to the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations which emphasises the determination of the United Nations to reaffirm faith in “…. the equal rights of men and women”, African women and girls face multifarious challenges among which are limited access to education, job scarcity, discrimination at work place, physical assault including sexual assaults, rape, sexual abuse of children, and child marriage and pregnancy. It is therefore not surprising that African Union made a strong call at its latest summit, held in January, for the integration of African women in societies as part of 2063 goals.
Nigeria does not have a comprehensive data on cases of abuse of women and domestic violence because of the silence of victims in most cases. They prefer to stay silent because of societal stigma, and the consequences that publicity may cause to their career and family. Women assault is also common among married women and ability to remain silent in the face of assault is considered as one of the hallmarks of humility in marriage.
I went to this length in unravelling the plights of women and girls in Africa so that as the world celebrates womanhood today, a reminder may be sent to the women society reminding her that the world must have a cursory look at the welfare of women in the 21st century Africa because the WELFARE of African women (being the most marginalised) speaks volume of the welfare of women across the globe.
In a recent Google+ pool coordinated by James Novak; Arizona Criminal Defence Attorney and one of the co-owners of Plus Attorneys and Friends Community, majority of the voters shared their sentiments on why they think that death penalty should be abolished, majority of those who voted in support of death penalty placed particular emphasis on it with regard to offences that has to do with rape.
While I reflected on this, I had cause to consider the abduction of the Chibok girls in Borno, Nigeria, and I allowed my mind to freely think over whether it was not best that a terrorist who has masterminded possible sexual abuse of young girls be prosecuted for crime against humanity? The abduction of the Chibok girls remain the most grievous injury to the celebration of womanhood in the 21st century Nigeria, and nobody knows if those girls will come back as women or the girls that they were when they were kidnapped!
The above narrative represents some of the dilemmas faced by women in Africa, but in the face of it all, I cannot but agree with Annie Lennox that the essential goals of feminism should be the attainment of a world where every female can actually realise her right to live free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions, and to equal pay for equal work.
.... To be continued.
*Eyitayo Ogunyemi is an Associate at Falana & Falana's Chambers. He is the Initiator of "The People's Parliament"- a forum committed to imparting the society with the knowledge of their constitutional rights and duties. Eyitayo is passionate about instilling legal knowledge in the masses and is a core advocate for a knowledge based Economy. Questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org (+234-806-0623-454) or asked directly in the comment box below.