Welcome to my blog this year. I am here to be the best that God has empowered me to be in the pursuit of a child protection conscious Africa. I must apologise that I have abandoned for a while now the series: 12 Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace. I felt it was important I gave expression to the messages I believed were divinely received for the season of Christmas and New Year. I believe I am still very much in that mode. I hope to get out of it at the end of the week. Therefore, hopefully, I would resume the series on Monday, January 7, 2013.
Yesterday, as I followed again the story of the female 23-year-old Indian medical student ganged-raped in Delhi, India, who later dies in a hospital in Singapore, I became burdened again to a lend my voice to the plight of women and the girl child. I feel we must build on the impact of this most unfortunate incident to do a massive and continuous advocacy in the defence of the child girl and women.
In my work, ‘CHILD PROTECTION IN AFRICA…62 Human and Social Threats YOU must KNOW, PREVENT & AVOID IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD,’ I identified as the 41st Human and Social threat to child protection in Africa: The Girl Child-Unfriendly Custodians: these ones are supposed to give a future and a hope to the girl child but they have become the enemy of her soul either consciously or unconsciously. When they have a girl child, they believe they do not have children yet. It is an acute foolishness I have seen under the sun of the African continent. This foolishness is found among the high and the low. In some cases their exposure to education does not help matters.
Many have countless children they do not have any plan to take care of in the name of looking for a boy child. I do not understand why the sole reason of bringing a child to this world would be a search for a particular sex.
I think it is this retrogressive perception of the girl child that informs the way the girl child is treated. She is seen as the slave of the man or an extension of his estate. I think it this perception, which informs why the girl child is married out early in many Third World cultures. Thus the theme of the very first International Day of the Girl Child, held on October 11, 2012 is very apt and relevant. It has been sadly found ‘that globally, around one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15.’
The impact of child marriage has been established to ‘results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. In developing countries, 90 per cent of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls, and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.’
Child marriage had negative impact on ‘girls with low levels of schooling are more likely to be married early, and child marriage has been shown to virtually end a girl’s education. Conversely, girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children, making education one of the best strategies for protecting girls and combating child marriage.’
It has been noted by experts that ‘preventing child marriage will protect girls’ rights and help reduce their risks of violence, early pregnancy, HIV infection, and maternal death and disability, including obstetric fistula. It is the conclusion of experts that ‘when girls are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, they can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families and participate in the progress of their nations.’
t is my final and sobering summation that from all forms of discrimination to child marriage, the social and cultural misconception about the girl child is huge. It is a cultural belief, which has not basis in godly reasoning and good conscience. The incredible advancements that women have attained in our society appear not to instruct people with this backward belief.
Today, I challenge our society to take a look at this belief and be ready for a reorientation in the best interest of the girl child. A child, boy or girl is a priceless blessing from God. A child, boy or girl is like an arrow in the hands of his/her custodians. The arrow does not determine its sharpness, speed and direction. The one shooting arrow does. I think instead of focusing on the child and his/her sex as the determinant of her worth, we should focus on ourselves as custodians.
I sign out today on a very sober note. I believe a world is enough for all men and women of good conscience to make the world safe for the girl child. I urge you friends, Think the Child, Think Today, Think the Future. Do have an INSPIRED Day.
N.B. Please watch out for my piece: Meet The Girl Child: The Symbol of Humanity.