A non-governmental organization, Ihuoma Girls’ Care and Support Initiative Centre has urged parents and the community to do everything possible to protect the girl-child from all forms of social abuses in order to enable her achieve her dream of becoming a better person in the society both now and in the future.
While speaking during the seminar tagged: “The power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030” held at the Adeboruwa palace, Igbogbo on Tuesday, October 11, 2016, the keynote speaker, Mayor Deen Sanwoola, the CEO of Something Else Bar and Café Centre, Ikorodu, said that the challenges and difficulties being faced by girl-child today were caused by their parents, coupled with the cultural makeup of the society.
According to him, each time a girl-child complains about an abuse, particularly rape or sexual assault, her parents or guardian would be the first to call her liar and would not bother to investigate such crime, especially if the perpetrator is a family members or a close friend.
Sanwoola also said that this was the major reason why some victims of social abuses refuse to talk, run way from their homes or eventually kill themselves because of the fear of being rejected or labelled a liar, if they decided to tell their stories.
He urged parents and guardians to always listen and investigate complaints of social abuses by their girl children, especially if the perpetrator is a family member of a close relative, whom he said were usually using the opportunity of their unguarded closeness to them to sexually assault and molest them.
The CEO of Something Else, however, warned that any perpetrator of social abuses against a child should not be allowed to go scot-free irrespective of his or her relationship with the victim and their family. Such a person, he stated, should be handed over to the appropriate Agency for prosecution and appropriate punishment to deter such acts in future.
While advising the school children at the event to face their dreams, Sanwoola warned them against joining bad company, particularly on the social media platforms. He told them to confide in their parents whenever anybody touches their private parts and threaten them not to talk about it.
In his brief remarks, the Adeboruwa of Igbogbo, Oba Semiu Orimadegun Kasali commended the organisers of the seminar for deeming it fit to organize such event to create awareness on the challenges facing the girl-child and how to resolve them. He also lauded the Lagos state government for legislating laws that enlightened parents and the society on the right of the girl-child and the male child as well as the appropriate punishment for those who perpetrate any form of social abuses against them.
Oba Kasali noted that the rate of social abuses against children was alarming and warned the parents and guardians to strictly monitor the relationship between their children and other people including close family members.
The monarch also gave assurance that him and his chiefs are ready to continue to support and promote any initiative or progrmme that would protect the children from social abuses and safeguard their future.
In their brief speeches, three people who spoke later including the representative of the office of public Defender, Mrs. Auch Betty; representative of the Civil Defence Corps, Mrs. Stella Adejo and Sheikh AbdulRazaq Mubaraq, Chief Missioner of Ansaru-ul-deen Society, Igbogbo chapter advocated for monitoring of the girl-child to prevent them from social abuses and reporting cases of sexual assault or domestic violence against them to the appropriate authorities.
Earlier on, the Chief Executive Officer and president of the Ihuoma Girl’s Care and Support Initiative, Amarachi Kene – Okafor said that despite the problem being faced by girl-child, women and young girls have not taken it upon themselves to advocate for their freedom. She said that the alarming number of cases of minors being raped was raising concerns among Nigerians, adding that a recent United Nation survey revealed that about one hundred and twenty million (120 million) girls around the world have been raped and sexually assaulted.
She cited UNICEF 2015 report, which states that one in every four girls in Nigeria has experienced sexual violence before the age of eighteen (18).” She said that a lot of men going by media report of children being raped, have lost their decency and conscience and most of the perpetrators are known to the victims and their families.
Mrs. Okafor stated that it was for this reason that her organization decided to hold the seminar to create a platform, where public attention would be drawn to the challenges and difficulties being faced by the girl child in order to resolve them.
She advised the young girls to take advantage of the relevant laws of Lagos State protecting them from social abuses and break the culture of silence to save their future.
The president of Ihuoma Girls Care Initiative also thanked Oba Kasali and his chiefs for supporting and hosting the event in the Adeboruwa Palace. The event also featured cultural dance, drama, presentations of the mission statement and vision of the organization to the new Adeboruwa and a marathon walk from Ikorodu to Igbogbo. Oba Kasali was also officially adopted as the grand patron of the centre at the event.
Among those present at the event were, members of the Adeboruwa-in-council, representatives and founders of Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Ihuoma Girls’ Care Support Initiative officials as well as school children from various private schools in Ikorodu, among which were, Noble Stars College, Aga-Ikorodu, Lateef Lamina Schools, Igbogbo, Homat Schools, Igbogbo, Glowing Brains Schools, Ikorodu and LAMBs Montessori school, Ikorodu.