BY GRACE ANYANWU, ABUJA – As the world marks the International Day of the Girl Child, an anti-Sexual and Gender Based Violence Movement on the aegis of ‘Men Against Rape’ (MAR) has called for the urgent need to amend the Penal Code to properly take care of the interest of the girl child.
MAR noted that the Penal Code presently exposes the girl child to being deprived of education as she can be removed from school at age 14 or even less for the purpose of marriage.
This is as MAR described the Nigerian Girl Child as a fearsomely talented personality held back from attaining her potential because of the limitations placed on her by societal norms and stereotypes.
In a statement issued by the convener of MAR, Mr. Lemmy Ughegbe and Communication Director, Mr. Ben Ubiri, observed that despite the many societal impediments, the Nigerian Girl Child has demonstrated a genuine ambition to find her voice.
According to MAR; “The Nigerian society has used norms and societal stereotypes to restrict the aspirations of the girl child. Imagine that in the 21st century, women are still told that certain jobs and professions are not for them.
“While we note with pride the determination of the girl child to shatter those societal barriers and stereotypes, we must raise our voices to seek an end to the laws and societal norms which seek to subdue her and make it difficult for her to breathe,” the gender sensitive organisation noted.
The MAR further said; “The knee of oppression has been on the neck of the Nigerian Girl Child for too long, shocking her and wanting to take her breathe away. But she has continued to struggle under that shocking knee hold to her neck.
“We must all rise to remove that knee from her neck, allow her catch her breath and pursue her purpose in any field of interest unfettered. Men Against Rape Movement is determined to see to the end of oppression of the girl child and will continue to lead the way”, they added.
The duo of Ughegbe and Ubiri also urged states Houses of Assembly to domesticate the Violence Against Peoples Prohibition Act and the Child Rights Act in order to protect the girl child.
The Movement, which was founded by Make A Difference Initiative, said it is working out modalities for a nationwide trip to address State Houses of Assembly on laws and reforms needed to empower the girl child and protect her from Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
MAR also said; “Our movement is committed to safe spaces for children and will continue to seek fair and equitable opportunities for the girl child because we know if given the right atmosphere can achieve great feat like her male counterpart”.