While the rest of the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child, Nigeria fumbles about like the unsteady gait of a drunk. Oh we love our daughters. We say we are protecting them while stifling them. We tell them to be strong but we silence them when they try to speak up. The very ones in our society who are sworn to protect them abuse them.
Our policemen only see them as prostitutes and potential rape victims. Young women have been arrested because they stood, waiting at a bus stop, or walked down the road, or because they were pretty. They are beaten, shot at and killed. It does not stop there. These officers of the law have stood over them with their guns and demanded sexual favours or forcefully raped them.
It’s not only the men in black who carry out this evil. Sometimes, it is their fathers, uncles, brothers, friends, teachers, neighbours, pastors and imams who cannot but see them as living, breathing, and walking vaginas. “They asked for it”. “They deserved it”. Pathetic excuses for rapists, paedophiles, and abusers.
Every one of us is responsible for the young in our communities. I would ask that we give them a voice, but that would be wrong. You see, they already have their voices. They just need to learn how to use it, how to be heard and how to make sounds that will reverberate and impact their worlds.
We should encourage them, permit them to not allow themselves to be silenced in the face of all opposition.