Gender Based Violence (GBV) refers to any form of violence that is perpetuated towards a person or group on the basis of their gender. It is violence targeted towards individuals solely because of their biological sexuality or sexual identity. Gender based violence can be physical, sexual or psychological violence such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking, the use of abusive and demeaning languages among others.

According to the European Union, GBV affects mostly women and girls and it is for this reason that The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) defines it as “violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately”. The definition of Gender Based Violence is now used interchangeably with Violence against women.

According to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, GBV is a declaration of historically unequal power relations between men and women which has overtime, led to the discrimination and subjugation of women by their male counterparts. Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world (UN, 2019). Young girls have become vulnerable to all sorts of violence which have scarred them and left several unimaginable imprints in them. In the long run, such violence perpetuated against them have affected their lives both personally and socially.

Violence against Children, especially girls occurs mostly in their homes, schools, and in parts of their communities. The society has proven that it is no longer a safe place for the girl child, as in every corner, danger awaits. Violence against the girl child takes different forms ranging from child marriages to child molestation.

Child molestation is a relatively broad term that covers many possible scenarios. It may describe direct sexual conduct, groping, or rape, but it may also include indecent exposure or displaying pornographic material in front of children. According to UNICEF, one in four girls have been victims of sexual violence. The Child Rights Act adopted by Nigeria in 2003, requires that children’s well-being must be respected and considered paramount. However, the increased incidence of child sexual abuse cases has dominated the headlines in the media, causing a great deal of concern (Elizabeth, 2018).

According to a study conducted by Audu et al (2009) in Maiduguri, North East Nigeria on  Child Labour and Sexual Assault among Girls in Maiduguri, it showed that a sexual assault rate of 77.7% was reported among female children workers with sexual assault being more likely in girls who were younger than 12 years.

Girl Child Molestation is usually carried out by older boys or men who are in close proximity to the victim. Based of different stories of the act carried by the media, it has shown that such acts are perpetuated by those who are close to the girls. These may include their family members, friends as well as other individuals that live in the same community as them. According to Vanguard National Newspaper (2013), a three year old girl was molested by her biological father while he was changing her diapers in 2013.

InKaduna State, a 24 year old Haruna Tukur, a bus conductor was arrested, and charged tomagistrate court in the state in29thFebruary 2016 for raping a 5 year old girl repeatedly even after he had been arrested and set free on bail for raping the same child. According to Garba (2016), this case prompted an outrage in social media, as the culprit had been reported to have repeatedly raped the

child for two years starting from when she was only 3 years old.

Also, Cross River Watch (2016) also cited the story of a three year old girl who was defiled by her step father, Mr Macellinus Nwabiri. The child was admitted at the General Hospital in Calabar where it was confirmed that she was indeed raped. These are just a few cases of girl child molestation in Nigeria.

The increasing rate of the act has subsequently caught the attention of several Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations. According to Su Ling Goh (2020), Children are at a higher risk of being abused during the COVID 19 pandemic because during this period, children are more likely to be left unsupervised with other children or unsafe adults as a result of school closures.

Many organizations across the country are now campaigning and sensitizing individuals and family about the menace of Girl Child Molestation. Prior to now, most cases of sexual abuse are kept hidden because of the stigma that follows the victim once such stories are heard. However, it has come to be realized that as long as those cases have not been brought to light, the evil perpetrators of such acts would continue to walk freely, getting more victims. Due to Campaigns and advocacies carries out by different organizations, individuals are now sharing their stories and perpetrators are being locked up.

The effects of girl child molestation are long lasting. While it can lead to pregnancy or the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, it can also lead to depression, low self esteem and other forms of psychological and emotional trauma .

A stand must be taken against Girl Child Molestation in Nigeria. While we can commend organizations for doing their parts to reduce the occurrence of the menace, parents and individuals must also play their part.  Girl Child Molestation takes place around us in our different neighborhoods and until we take a stand against it, not much would be achieved.

References

  1. Audu B, Geidam A, Jarma H  (2009). Child labor and sexual assault among girls in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Int J Gy- necol Obstet. 104:64–67.
  2. Cross Rivers Watch. (2016). Calabar: How Police Scuttled Investigation of man who raped 3 year old step-daughter. Retrieved fromhttps://crossriverwatch.com/…/calabar-how…
  3. Elizabeth Oluwatoyin Akin-Odanye (2018). Prevalence and management of child sexual abuse cases presented at Nigerian hospitals: A systematic review. Journal of Health and Social Sciences. 3,2; 109-124.
  4. European Union. What is Gender Based Violence? https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/gender-equality/gender-based-violence/what-gender-based-violence_en
  5. Garba, M. (2016). How a Bus conductor in Kaduna Allegedly raped a 5 year old girl. PremiumTimes. Retrieved from https://www.premiumtimesng.com/204137-6…
  6. Su Ling Goh (2020). Child Sexual Abuse Expected to Rise Amid COVID 19 Pandemic, Expert Says. Global News.
  7. UNICEF (2015). Child Protection. https://www.unicef.org/nigeria/child-protection
  8. Vanguard National Newspaper. (2013). Man Rapes His three year old baby. Retrieved fromhttps://www.vanguardngr.com/…/man rapes-his-three..

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