Human and Social Hindrances to Child Protection: 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 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.’

Experts have insisted that Nigeria has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world as statistics show that 1500 under five children die yearly in Nigeria. 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.’

It 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 own 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.

Thank you for visiting to today. I charge you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…

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