Standing for the woman (Part 1)

Women are most at risk of being raped or murdered by people they know, have or have had an intimate relationship with’’

Educate the women, you educate the nation, empower the women, you empower the nation, improve the health of women, you improve the health of the nation, and improve the overall lot of women, you improve the overall lot of everybody. But why are we not doing it. It is no more news that countries where women are less free are also chart toppers on the global poverty list. Why are we not giving women better opportunities to be all they can, if we truly desire to improve the world?

Today, violence against women is on the rise. In places like South Africa, it has become the norm for women to be killed by their partners; in fact a recent stat from the rainbow nation shows that every day, a woman’s life is snuffed out by someone who professed eternal love to her at one time or the other. In India, rape has been elevated as a national culture to be tolerated with impunity. According to Council on Foreign Relation’s Isobel Coleman Gender Inequality is at the Root: “In India, girls are valued less than boys,” she says, “and this results in many inequalities in society.” In addition to rampant sex-selective abortions, Coleman points to significant disparities in access to health care and education. Moreso, India has a Culture of Complicity: “Culturally, there’s not enough exposure and conviction against those who are perpetrating acts of violence against women.

Worryingly, what was viewed as a foreign malaise, or something only perpetrated by armed robbers or campus cultists have arrived safely into Nigerian homes and is becoming a ‘normal’ news on our stable. The rate at which, violence against women and rape is rising in Nigeria is so alarming that unless an urgent action is taken to curb it, it would degenerate into something worse than India’s or South Africa’s.
The world lost out on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) simply because most of the goals and targets are about women. Now they have started talking about Post 2015, yet the statistics are as dreary as they have been. For example, between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

If current levels of child marriages hold, 14.2 million girls annually or 39,000 daily will marry too young. Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15. Despite the physical damage and the persistent discrimination to young girls, UNFPA says, little progress has been made toward ending the practice of child marriage. In fact, the problem threatens to increase with the expanding youth population in the developing world.
Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects,” says our own Babatunde Osotimehin, M.D, Executive Director, UNFPA. “A girl who is married as a child is one whose potential will not be fulfilled. Since many parents and communities also want the very best for their daughters, we must work together and end child marriage.”Girls married young are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence and sexual abuse than those who marry later.

“Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women aged 15-19. Young girls who marry later and delay pregnancy beyond their adolescence have more chances to stay healthier, to better their education and build a better life for themselves and their families,” says Flavia Bustreo, M.D., Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health at the World Health Organization. “We have the means at our disposal to work together to stop child marriage.”

March 7 2013, a special session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held, it focused on child marriage. The session was jointly sponsored by the governments of Bangladesh, Malawi and Canada and it was held in support of Every Woman Every Child, a movement spearheaded by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. I didn’t expect the Nigerian government to show so much support when we have people like Senator Yerima in government. But how many like the senator hiding under cover today, we may never know, infact there are many far worse than Yerima, at least Yerima went far away Egypt to pick his 13 year old bride, what of the many Nigerian men who are sexually molesting their own daughters, many of them highly placed individuals in the society. Who will these helpless girls cry to.

Though child marriage is a global issue, rates vary dramatically, both within and between countries. In both proportions and numbers, most child marriages take place in rural sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In South Asia, nearly half of young women and in sub-Saharan Africa more than one third of young women are married by their 18th birthday. And unless child marriage is properly addressed, the UN Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5 – calling for a two-thirds reduction in the under-five mortality rate and a three-fourths reduction in the maternal deaths by 2015 – will not be met.



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