By: Tunde Oyekola, Osogbo
As the world marks this year’s International girl child day, the federal and state governments have been charged to ensure that Nigerian children especially girls were protected against sexual abuses.
A non-governmental organisation, Value Female Network (VFN) also said that the National Assembly should make stringent law that would make stiffer punishment to those who engage in mutilating female genital organ VFN gave the charge on Wednesday during a press conference to mark the world girl child day in Osogbo, Osun state.
Speaking, the executive director of the group, Miss Costly Aderibigbe also tasked members of National and State Assemblies to make laws that would propel a stiffer penalty or punishment for convicted rapists saying such would assist in eradicating the menace in the society.
According to Aderibigbe, many people caught in the act of abusing and mutilating girl children were not adequately punished saying lack of stringent laws is partly responsible for the persistence of the ungodly acts.
Aderibigbe, accompanied by some secondary school girls in the state under the VFN Heroes Club, established the NGO, called on governments at all levels to invest more on the girl child saying “as the world celebrates girls today, we seize this opportunity to call upon authorizes and individuals to invest more in the girl child and watch them transform the world.”
“There are 1.1 billion girls in the world and everyone of them deserves opportunity for a better future. They are sources of energy, power and creativity. They can drive change and help build a better future for all. Its worrisome that researches revealed that 1 out of 4 girls have been sexually abused; 1 out of 13 girls is being abused by a family member; 1 out of 8 girls is being abused by a stranger; 10 school-age girl in Nigeria skip school during menstruation or drop out altogether because of the lack of sanitation; 34% of girls are out of school in Nigeria as compared to 27% of boys.
“Bearing in mind these disturbing discoveries, we call on the Federal Government and all state governments of the federation to improve the standard of living for citizens of the state by fulfilling their social responsibility roles such as payment of salaries, provision of jobs, protection of the volunrable children in the country, implement laws that will further proffer stiffer punishment for the defilers of our girl children.
“Our governments should invest more in the education sector and ensure every child has equal right to access quality and the right type of education. We also call on developing partners to further invest in girls especially in the aspect of provision of life skills to girls. They should empower girls with information that is needed to succeed in all spheres of life. Our leaders should protect girls with disabilities, victims of crisis and girls living with HIV/AIDS.
“They (governments) should support women (mothers) to further protect girls. We therefore charge parents and care givers not to engager in all forms of violence against children especially domestic violence which have psychological detrimental effect to their wards. They should protect them and give theme the right information to succeed in life with. Parents and guardians should refrain from all forms of child abuse.”
Some of the girl children present at the press conference held at the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists while speaking charged those in practice of mutilating and cutting girls genital organ to desist.
According to one of the students, “please, we want them (circumsisers) to put an end to detrimental and inhumane sociocultural practices that tamper with our future. We say no to Female Genital Mutilation, Child marriage, preference for male education, and other vices.
“We believe that when girls are happy and healthier, the world is happy. Girls are the greatest assets any Nation can invest in; we are powerful beyond measures. We challenge everyone to invest in girls, protect their rights and watch them transform the world.”