Nigeria: Speaker seeks end to discrimination, violence against girl child
APA – Lagos (Nigeria) - The Speaker of the Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has called for an end to all forms of discrimination, violence and harmful cultural practices which stunt the development of the Girl Child.
In his speech to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child on Wednesday in Abuja, Dogara raised concerns about the discrepancy in literacy statistics for girls, and stressed that “all hands should be on deck in order to attain a future where there is equal opportunity and a better quality of life for Nigeria’s female population”.
“It is disheartening that in this century, as a nation, we still grapple with actions and attitudes, which are aimed at repressing and suppressing girls and women. It is high time we all acknowledged the reality that discrimination, violence and lack of equal opportunity have no place in civilised society and do all we could to ensure a better lease of life for our female population,” he said.
He lamented that statistics from UNICEF and UNESCO show that 50 percent of all sexual assaults are targeted at girls below 16 and that girls account for 80 percent of the 800,000 people trafficked annually.
Dogara noted that two-thirds of the global illiterate population are female and 116 million women across developing countries have not completed primary education and argued that “these statistics forecast a gloomy future, and such negative trends must be arrested with genuine efforts made towards correcting the situation”.
According to him, harmful traditional practices such as genital mutilation must be discouraged and met with punitive measures in cases where they occur, while stiff penalties are applied to cases of child assault.
He urged more states to adopt the Child Rights Act and full implementation and enforcement in states that have adopted the Child Rights Act.
He advised parents to empower their daughters by not denying them access to education and uplift them with words of encouragement and support, and assure them that their dreams and aspirations are attainable.
“The girl child is of utmost importance to us at the House of Representatives. We have stayed the course in seeking the release of our beloved Chibok Girls, and all other matters relating to gender equity have consistently enjoyed our full support,” the Speaker added.