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Gender Based Violence

Addressing GBV in Nigeria: A Case for The Girl Child by Kabir Abdulsalam

Last weekend, after arriving home from an outing, I witnessed a scene between my wife and children that fascinated me. My wife, a passionate health development advocate and gender-based violence activist, was rehearsing a drama with our children, assisted by our foster daughter.

The play depicted steps young girls are expected to take when sexually molested. The play that my wife and children were rehearsing was their initiative to mark the end of the 2023 United Nations’ 16-Day of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

In recent years, reports of sexual assaults have dominated the Nigerian media space, leaving one to wonder how minors, especially young girls, became prey that are feasted on both by strangers and even their relations.

This sad reality should worry the government and critical stakeholders advocating for the rights of the girl child, together with their development. Unfortunately, the state of the economy is also aggravating the sexual exploitation of women and young ladies.

An analyst with Arise News and a law lecturer, Mr. Sam Amadi, in an article exposing how young females in their desperation to ‘survive’ engage in acts of sexual promiscuity in hotels.

In the article, Amadi revealed a late-night encounter he had with some scantily-clad young girls at a hotel, who posed as commercial sex workers to ‘pleasure’ all sorts of people, including politicians.

While reading Amadi’s piece, I ruminated over this burning question: why are we indulging our young and adolescent girls in sexual immorality? However, there is a need for the government and relevant stakeholders to now pay attention to GBV, and the havoc it is causing to the moral fabric of our society.

The occasion of this year’s 16-Day of Activism Against Gender-Based should reawaken our commitment towards empowering – academically and financially – the younger generation, who are mostly the victims of GBV.

Indeed, the government’s intervention is important to curb GBV across the country.

Enforcing stringent laws that ensure perpetrators are punished is critical, even as there is a need to bolster necessary legal frameworks that will ensure the protection of minors.

It is gratifying that the current Minister for Women Affairs is working in the direction highlighted above. Furthermore, allocating resources to establish accessible support mechanisms, including counseling services and helplines, is also paramount.

Again, policy initiatives geared toward improving the socioeconomic status of our girls, through scholarships, vocational training, and economic empowerment programs will guarantee their independence and make them self-sufficient.

Meanwhile, a government-led awareness campaign can play a vital role in educating the public about the GBV issues, while fostering a sense of collective responsibility towards addressing it.

Let us not turn a blind eye to this hidden reality. Let us stand together as parents, educators, policymakers, and individuals to create a world where every girl can thrive, free from the shackles of exploitation and violence. The time for action is now.

Kabir Abdulsalam writes from Abuja, can be reached via: [email protected]