By Sherifat Lawal
Three girls, Sekinat Agbelade aged 15; Tina Ezekwe, 16, and Vera Uwaila, 22, must be sharing a thing in common — pity for the Nigerian girl-child. If her father is not exorcising his demons by toying with her sexual organs, a man is taking advantage of her outside. And then the system fails her, as it did Sekinat, Tina and Vera.
On March 20, men of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, ended Sekinat’s life in Ogun State. On May 26, policemen re-enacted the same abilities in Lagos. This time it was Tina. Both girls were preparing for the final exams as secondary school students. Then some “killer-Customs officers and policemen in training” raped and then bashed in Vera’s face in Benin, Edo State, on May 27.
And then, up North in Zamfara State, 11 men found sexual release in a 12-year-old girl. Whether to wonder how full-grown adults find the space to bury their phalluses or what exactly happens in their brains when the rape victims cry “NO” is a dilemma for all the Sekinas, Tinas and Uwas will never resolve. They no longer bother. They rest.
Nay, they can’t be resting. They worry about the fate of Nigeria’s girl-child. She is not safe anywhere; whether in the arms of her father, neighbour, family friend, or teacher.
The social media is awash with campaigns for justice: #JusticeforTina, #JusticeforUwa, among others. But how do you get justice for dreams cut short by careless bullets and wandering phalluses? The dead won’t get any relief. It is the living that needs justice, read “protection”.
There are laws, regulations, and policies that seek to protect the girl-child. But leadership is not about spouting demagogue. So the system has failed her. And true love is when another person’s happiness is vital to one’s own. So at any point, she says “NO,” it must be assumed she means it.
Now, Sekinat, Tina, Uwa and the many dead we never know about would want the girl-child and the 10,000 women being raped in Nigeria daily (according to Women At Risk Foundation, WARIF 2018), to have two things — self-defense skills and a generation of men that respect women. They would beg families to teach men to care for her and not concentrate on telling her to “seat properly!”
We have been made to believe men are hunters. Okay, the girl would love to be hunted. But not with bullets and engorged phalluses propelling rudderless brains to halt dreams. Certainly not with fire extinguishers that put out lives.
Real men are hunters. Not the type that kills game for fun or set bushes on fire, then lies in wait and bless frightened fleeing lives with death-bearing pellets.
Real men hunting is telling her how much she is worth, and earning it; assuring her of protection and proving it; understanding her needs and fears then showing it. This how the real man makes the mature flower open of its own accord to kiss the sun. Whether as a father or guardian, neighbour or favour donor, boyfriend or husband, lecturer or tutor, boss or colleague, that girl-child, teenage girl, female student, or colleague is not a sheep to the slaughter.
Those beautiful things that excite you about them is a measure of how much time God spent in moulding potentials into her every being. Stop raping God’s purpose.
At the end of the day, the solution is with family; to raise up a girl that is consciously aware of possible personal security. The family should also raise boys that are real hunters and not animals in uniform or youths led by brains warped by third legs. There’s nothing more cowardly than a man that cannot control himself in the presence of a vulnerable girl.
Do we have the laws, regulations, policies, and Police, and even NGOs? Yes. A huge shout out to the Mirable Centre and others doing the same work. But the foundation is destroyed, so what can the righteous do? Go back to where it all began— family.
And if you are a real man, thank you. Call your female friends, sisters, cousins, mothers, sisters-in-law, and tell them it’s okay to be a girl-child.