Last week, two major events took place that harped on the need to pay closer attention to the girl-child, especially in a society that is considered male dominated. This is because our female folks have a lot to offer and the right atmosphere must be put in place devoid of any harassments, assault, ill-health and violence. One of these events was an advocacy while the second was more of a clarion call. To make the desired impact, outcomes of such discourse should be followed-up to bring about the desired change. To begin with, a call has gone to governments at all levels to make adequate provision of safe toilets and running water in schools and public places in order to make the girl-child comfortable when observing her menstrual period.
The Ogun State Commissioner, Nigerian Girl Guides Association, Comrade Moyosore Adeyemi made this call while launching the state’s Girls Are Valuable (GAV) project inside the expansive hall of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta Staff School in Ogun State. According to Adeyemi, the GAV project is an advocacy by the association to train the girl-child on how to maintain proper hygiene during her monthly menstrual periods. She disclosed that 240 girls from different schools in the state had been given packs of reusable sanitary pads, adding that 10 women were equally trained to train others. “We look at the cost of sanitary towels, which are expensive now and some parents cannot afford it during this economic hardship period and that is why some girls are using something else that is not hygienic”, she added.
Adeyemi, who stated that the pilot GAV project started with three states, namely: Rivers, Plateau and Kwara, disclosed that Ogun and Akwa Ibom states were added later, noting that Ogun State came top in the implementation of the GAV project nationwide. “It is time to take action, let us do it with the Nigerian Girl Guides Association”, she said. Also speaking at the event, the Assistant Youth National Commissioner, Mrs. Iyanuoluwa Ikoko, said many girls feel ashamed while observing their menstrual period, stressing that menstruation is a biological process of growing up for a girl-child, which also makes her a complete woman. At the occasion, reusable sanitary towels were distributed to students from different schools across the state and some women.
In another vein, discussants have charged Nigerians, most especially, victims of sexual violence to speak out and report to law enforcement agencies whenever they are assaulted for proper prosecution. The Head of Department, Psychology, Guidance and Counselling, Federal College of Education (FCE), Osiele, Abeokuta, Dr. Johnson Osagie, said parents should take the pain to educate their children on sex education, while admonishing children also to avoid keeping secrets and report such when they are sexually harassed. Dr. Osagie observed that some people had persisted in the dastardly act because they were either not called to order or punished, saying there is a sexual offender register that disqualifies any sexual offender from getting a job in the country. Also, the Director, Centre for Undergraduate Programmes (CUDEP), Federal College of Education (FCE), Osiele, Abeokuta, Dr. Temitayo Akinyele, said Nigerians should to fight this wicked act and teach students how to speak out whenever they were sexually assaulted. “There are so many things we need to do, sexual violence is deeper than we think”, she maintained.
Dr. Akinyele, however, urged government officials and law enforcement agencies to stop asking for proof of penetration when a lady had reported being sexually-harassed, saying this is traumatising. Meanwhile, one of the callers during the programme, Mr. Ademola Oladosu regretted that all agents of socialisation had broken down right from the home, saying there were many irresponsible parents in society today while another caller, Mr. Ola Kelani maintained that discipline was very important in all that we do, stressing that lack of discipline remained one of the major causes of sexual violence. As earlier pointed out, where do we go from here? There is the imperative for governments to make adequate provision of safe toilets and running water in schools and public places to make the girl-child comfortable when observing her menstrual period.
Secondly, girls have to stop feeling ashamed while observing their menstrual period because menstruation is a biological process of growing up that makes her a complete woman and, therefore, should be given due attention to make life bearable for them. Furthermore, victims of sexual violence should not keep silent, but speak out and report to law enforcement agencies whenever they are assaulted for proper prosecution. Parents should take pain to educate their children on sex education, children should desist from keeping secrets and report when they are sexually harassed while law enforcement agencies are advised to desist from asking for proof of penetration when a lady had reported being sexually-harassed, which also corroborated the views of telephone callers on why all agents of socialisation should be up and doing much as discipline is key for lack of discipline and a major cause of sexual violence that should be tackled.
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