To eradicate Girl Child molestation and discrimination in Nigeria, psychologists are asking for stiffer penalties for persons who molest any girl child.
They believe that what would aid the punishment for the molesters is the effective domestication and implementation of the Acts on Child’s Right.
At a symposium organised by the Life Matters Foundation for Children and Youths Concerns in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, all the speakers demanded for more actions to end a trend they said was worrisome.
Speaking on the topic, “The Nigerian Girl Child :Trends, Issues and Interventions” the speakers were also of the opinion that the girl child needed to be empowered and sensitised on the need to speak up when they feel intimidated in any format that might lead to abuse.
Increase In Reported Cases
The convener of the the Nigerian Girl Child Project, Dr. Olayinka Oderinde, said the project was put together in view of the recent happenings to the girl child and the levity with which such cases were handled.
“In recent times, there has been an increase in reported cases of various forms of injustices, unfairness, abuse, misuse, violation against the girl child in Nigeria.
“Still fresh on our minds are the cases of the abducted Chibok girls, the” Ejigbo three”, Miss Ese Oruru, four school girls impregnated in Lagos State as well as countless cases of rape, paedophillia and incest abortions among others.
“These are burning issues of serious concern to not only Life Matters foundation but to other stakeholders on the total well-being of the Nigerian Girl child because they could affect the educational, psycho-social and spiritual achievement/progress of young girls and ladies,” she lamented.
Dr. Oderinde further told the gathering that “in some cases some parents will tell you that they prefer to send their boys to school than their girls for reasons known to them but most times their excuse is that the girl will go to her husband’s house. So they would rather not waste their money on her education. This trend should be discouraged. The girl child has equal rights with the boy child and they should be treated equally to avoid complex for the girl child in future”.
According to her, the way out of this crisis is through education, enlightenment and awareness.
“We should not be silent about the abuse of the girl child. Perpetrators must be exposed. I’m happy Lagos state is taking a step on this and they are doing quite well, they have well established institutions in how to report violation of the girl child or children generally. We must create awareness. Some do not know what VVF means. Some even claim they do not know it is wrong to hawk wares. Let’s create this awareness and save our girl children from danger,” she stated.
Another speaker at the symposium, Dr. Ndidi Ofole, a counselling psychologist from the University of Ibadan in Oyo State said that “one of the things we are not getting right is that most of the acts on child’s right is yet to be domesticated”.
He pointed out that only 18 states out of 36 states in the Federation and Federal Capital Territory had adopted the Child Right Acts.
Dr. Ofole said that even with the adoption only two states – Lagos and Akwa Ibom – are implementing the law.
“It then makes one wonder, what is happening to the other states. When it is not put into law, the perpetrators easily get out of it because there is no strong policy to hold them behind the bars. Despite all the efforts made in the past, this reason is responsible for its lingering in the society,” she said.
The counselling psychologist, however, stressed that advocacy, seminars and workshops could help to sensitise the people. She lamented that since 1989 that the Act was promulgated internationally, it is yet to find its strong footing in Nigeria.
“The children also need to be empowered and sensitised to their bright songs soon, as they see any strange attitude to their right. They can speak up. The government can set up online calls for girls who find themselves in awkward situation so they can call for help.
“There should also be workshops for parents. Often times it is parents who feel ashamed that refuse to speak up and it is causing more harm than good for their children. When they fear the stigma and hide the perpetrator, he will commit more crimes in the society,” Dr Ofole emphasised.
Dr Solomon Ladipo was another speaker at the symposium and he thinks the law enforcement agents are not implementing the law to the fullest.
“I believe that anybody who is caught molesting, violating or abusing any child, either boy or girl, should have the law descend heavily on him or her and when people see this it will serve as a deterrent to others who may want to do such acts.
“So I call on all law enforcement agents to please rise up to their responsibilities. Whenever you see a child being molested, please do the needful, apprehend the culprit and bring him before a competent court of law and have him properly punished,” he appealed.
He further appealed to parents to help prevent any form of molestation from occurring to the child by being more careful.
“I think prevention is the key word here. Once it happens, the memory cannot be erased, So, parents let’s put in more effort to protect our children especially the girl child from incest and scars that will linger for life,” he added.