Gender Inequality

What makes a father think it’s okay for a 5 year old son to have a glass of red wine but not acceptable for his grown wife to have a sip of it? What makes a man think it’s okay for him to live a full life and relegate a woman to the kitchen or be a partial participant in the “other room”? What makes a man think at all that it’s a man’s world? It’s all part of gender inequality treatment.

Psychology tells us that there are no differences between male and female intelligence. However, while men are significantly more likely to take risks than women, this trait enables them to get ahead more quickly than the average woman. Perhaps we owe the intuition in the male gender to segregate from the opposite sex to their more likelihood to be aggressive, a trait influenced by androgen exposure. … More Gender Inequality

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Child Prostitution & Internet Child Pornography

“My mother trusted too much. She trusted a pastor with alone with me when I was just 7 and the pastor molested me. I wanted to tell my mother but I hoped she would notice on her own that sometime was different about me but she couldn’t tell. When I told eventually told her, she only got angry that I could even think of such a lie and she shut me up without ever verifying my story”, she said to me. … More Child Prostitution & Internet Child Pornography

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I am made of more

I am not an outcome by my status as a woman,
Neither am I of consequence by being a wife and a mother.
I am confident to hold my own,
Juggling my responsibilities perfectly abreast my dreams.
I am a product of my youth.
I am a product of my dreams.
I am a product of my potential and passion.
I am not limited by the decisions I have made.
I am made of the toughness of the African woman.
Working endlessly, tirelessly, achieving more every day.
I am intelligent, creative, smart and witty
Yet I am stern and discerning of the right
I am more than what you see
I am more than this skin
I am more than my face
I am more than my breasts
I am more than my skirt
I am more because I am made of more
More I am made of more

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Raising a girl child

If I wanted to have another baby, asides the Nigerian economic hindrance to affording another child at the moment, it would have been the perfect time to have another. My children are eager, too, to have a baby sister or brother. So it got me wondering, if I were to decide which is more favorable, would I want a boy or a girl child. They both have their challenges, raising boy or girl child in my society. So for today, I want to examine the challenges of raising a girl child in this part of the world. I will consider looking into raising male children in another post.

The Girl Child from birth is an invaluable being with unlimited potentials and should be treated with nothing short of profound love and affection and provided for in terms of food, nutrition, healthcare, education and security. Ideal, right but this is hardly so in some parts of the world. I still wonder the rationale behind my husband thinking my son can have a taste of red wine and I can’t. Consciously or unconsciously, the Girl Child is discriminated against from her earliest stages of life with our parents brainwashing us with things that are acceptable and all things being tolerable. So throughout childhood and into adulthood, we are wired in different ways than the opposite sex. This is why a woman would be considered of a less privilege than a man, but not until the past few years when women have begun to raise to the challenge and challenge everything intolerable.

Ok so this can’t even be a factor to my having a girl child or not but I can’t ignore the evils going on in my society. In a previous post, I talked about the barbaric mutilation of the Girl Child’s genitalia for prejudiced reasons in the name of female circumcision. Meanwhile the pain and stigma of that stays on for the rest of the child’s life. Suffice to say that genital mutilation further hinders sexual satisfaction, inducing stress in her future marital relationship. Some develop occlusion of the vagina, affecting both sexual life and childbirth.

As if this is not enough, sexual and violent abuse of the girl child is on the rampant. Once, a friend of mine sent me a sick video of a man violating a child. I had to call her and say to her, please never send me this again. I understand that she wanted me to be aware of the evils, but I am aware. Since then, I must have also received a couple of videos like that. In another heartfelt post, Save the daughters, you can read a few of these things going on a daily basis. Yet the number of unreported cases is even far greater. These innocent beings are subjected to the trauma of sexual abuse at such tender ages. They subsequently suffer a range of morbidities from immediate injuries like lacerations, bleeding, and damage to internal organs and worse still death to long term psychological, emotional and social complications like depression, poor self-esteem, and anxiety disorders. On the long run, after the therapy and psychological help, it does have its effect for a lifetime.

I saw the movie, Wives on strike, with a friend a few weeks ago. It was hilarious yet the message was crystal clear. It addresses another issue of the Girl Child – early marriage. Some countries in Africa are amongst those with the highest proportion of early marriage. A colleague of mine was saying that amongst the Yoruba people of Nigeria and the Hausas lay the highest number of competitors for early marriages. I want to believe this is often against the wish of the girl child but there usually is a justification on cultural norms and sometimes it happens as a financial transaction by families. The Girl Child who is to be the bride and star of the day on her wedding day is relegated to the background, not considering the major setback in her life, limitation of her opportunities and even jeopardize her right to a proper education. I can’t imagine what the thrill in a child is for a man. Obviously, her early life is compounded with sexual and reproductive problems. She gets pregnant, suffer complications during pregnancy and delivery and most times, loss of live is inevitable increasing maternal mortality rates. A large percentage develop obstetric fistula and are subjected to a life of ridicule.

Perhaps people also fill the need to engage their girl child in early marriages because they are expected to stay home and attend to domestic chores anyway. In this way, they are neither encouraged nor given the chance to participate in intellectually stimulating activities. This discrimination is further justified on the grounds of different expectations in the roles and prospects of the girl child.

However, the travails of the girl child can be controlled. Joint action from all sectors and community based awareness and advocacy is necessary. Programs that raise public awareness and educate on the prevalence, female genital mutilation, child sexual abuse and early marriages should be encouraged. Professional evaluation and treatment should be provided for victims of sexual abuse and perpetuators should be charged and severely punished. Cultural attitudes on child marriage should be shifted and the girl child’s rights promoted and protected.

An empowered girl child becomes an educated, confident, employed, secure, strong and respected woman who can make informed decision. She can contribute effectively to the development of the nation and form a stable foundation for the next generation. The earlier we realize that no investment in women’s lives will be sustained until the girl child is empowered, the better for the world. But from my motherly experience with my daughter the truth about raising daughters is it takes plenty of attention to details, body language, good humor, a lot of time, and a huge amount of love.
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Platter of Flowers

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Aribido wondered what the thing was – that thing that got all the other children, male and female, wanting her.
She was just a regular girl who loved life. All she wanted was to enjoy the good in life. Life was already good for her and her family. They lived in a four bedroom apartment which also housed five other families of the same ethnic group, or so Aribido thought. She was the last born child of a family of three children, the only girl too. Her family was from Ilori West in Kwara state. Every Sunday afternoon, her mother would put big hot chunks of soft boiled yam into the wooden mortar pot while her Aunty Julie pounded the chunks into what would be fine balls of pounded yam in their plates for lunch. Ẹfọ riro with lots of irú really went down well with the pounded yam. Aribido was a chubby girl, with fine rosy cheeks. When she smiled, deep dimples on each cheek revealed how puffy her cheeks really were. Her hair was long and full in natural thick locks. It looked like a South African turban when she combed it all out. That was one of the reasons the other children loved her. They wanted to be close friends with her, too, for the beautiful charisma she wore around like colourful royal robes.
When the children played in the compound, the children of the other apartment too, they played games like ‘police and thief’, ‘mummy and daddy’, and ‘hide and seek’.
When they played ‘police and thief’, one person represented the police and the rest of the children played thieves. The police made a pistol with his first two fingers stretched out like the mouth of a pistol while the rest of the fingers were folded inward. The children would hide. The police had to search while being careful not to be heard as he or she approached, creeping in slowly as he or she held their backs against the wall as they went along. Even the thieve avoid being sighted, clinging their backs against the walls as they went along. Whomever the police sighted and shoot is out of the game. That was the rule of the game but most of the children end up upset and argued about not being out of the game. “Your pistol did not hit me”, they would say. However, whenever it was Aribido that was the thief, the police often pretended not to see her so she wouldn’t be out of the game, save for of course if it were one of her siblings who didn’t keep a bias about her. Nevertheless, when she was the police, whenever she declared someone out of the game, the person accepted gallantly. It was as though her opinion was a form of endorsement on certain things.
One of the more interesting games was ‘mummy and daddy’. It was a family play, acting regular everyday life. The mummies often feigned cooking for the family, or cooking in preparation for parties and get-togethers. It was interesting because they get to go to the market, which was not farther than the garden at the backyard in the compound, to pick colourful and exotic flowers like the red hibiscus; caladium leaves which has green hem across the blade with red central veins as it branches out across the rest of the white vascular tissue; and especially the sundown red leaf lettuce – it almost looks like the reddish-green spinach vegetables. These flowers resembled the ones the real mummies bought from the market. So the ‘mummies’ pick the leaves, flowers and any other interesting looking things they found in the garden, seeds and twigs that served as spoons or something like it. However, they deliberately avoid any leaves or flowers near the banana trees. There were bad rumours linked to the banana tree, no one went near. Although the banana tree was outside the compound, it was mysteriously looked upon from afar. Perhaps, the varieties and scent of the leafy flowers attracted the many snakes that were seen in the compound while serving as camouflage for them too.
So the mummies came together to prepare meals, adding all kinds of interesting make-believe spices. The daddies, on the other hand, loved their part of rubbing their bodies against the mummies, laying on them and the likes. They usually cast dies for whom would play Aribido’s husband. Sometimes, her husband even said he was sick and needed extra attention from her to get well.
Once, one of the girls caught one of the boys kissing Aribido behind the building. She too wanted to know what it felt like to hold her in her arms as the boys usually did. None of the boys were taken by any other girl but Aribido. So Eliza invited her home one afternoon when her mother and older siblings were out. Eliza was older than Aribido. They watched a movie together while sitting on the long cushion chair. Eliza began to move closer to Aribido. She realised Eliza was swiftly moving close but she wondered what it was all for. Then, when there was no space between them anymore, Aribido looked at her. Eliza smiled at her. Eliza kept her gaze till she began to move her head closer as well. She kissed Aribido. Aribido was confused. A few of the boys had kissed her and she had often seen that in the movies, boys kissing girls, men kissing women but she had never known a girl could kiss another girl. Eliza’s kiss didn’t feel forbidden however. It felt as though when Deinde has kissed her or when Daniel kissed her the other day only that Eliza’s lips felt softer.
Eliza pulled away giving Aribido a chance to savour the experience. When after she pulled away she found Aribido’s eyes shut and her lips pouted out as if for more, she kissed her again. This time she gently forced her lips apart with her tongue and fondled with hers. Aribido hardly participated in that tongue-tied situation. She just contemplated if she really liked it. Before she could decide, Eliza had pushed her on to the cushion while fondling with the rest of her body. At that time, she stiffened her body and began to wonder what it was between her thighs that suddenly felt slippery, her underwear felt wet. Before she could decide she didn’t like what she was feeling or what was happening to her or push Eliza off, they heard a knock on the door. Eliza quickly got up and pulled up her pant and rubbed the saliva off her lips. She asked Aribido to quickly do the same as she yelled, “I’m coming!”.
“What are you doing that you had to bolt the door and lock yourself in?”, her mother asked when she got in, looking around for suspicious acts.
“Nothing mummy”, Eliza was quick to respond. “I didn’t want anyone to disturb this movie I and Aribido are watching”, she quickly added before her mother walked into the living room to find her there.
“Good afternoon ma”, Aribido greeted in her usual self.
“How are you, my dear?” Eliza’s mother responded to her. “How are your mummy and brothers?”
“They are fine, ma. I should be going now”, she rose to her feet.
“Oh no, my dear, stay to finish your movie”, Eliza’s mother urged.
“Don’t worry ma. I can always come to finish it another day”, she said but almost in a requesting manner as she looked at Eliza.
Eliza was glad she wanted to come back to finish what they had started. “Yes, another day”, Eliza said happily.
That experience didn’t give her any favouritism in affection for certain gender relationship, looking back on it. As desired as she was as a child, as fortunate as her family was, as beautifully perfect her life seemed, it was nothing short of a platter of flowers. But old age told the reality of life. Over forty years later, she hears of homosexuals and other perverse immoralities, and she wonders how true the saying is. ‘Nothing under the sun is truly new’.
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