Earlier this year the Gender Equality Bill suffered a great setback, not when it was summarily dismissed from the floor of the house at second reading, but when it was reintroduced to the floor after an outcry on social media.
It was reintroduced, you think, so why is 9jafeminista and most, if not all, feminists in Nigeria are calling that a setback?
The truth is that the bill that was reintroduced to the floor of the Senate is a shell of its real self. Every single section, every single word, that would give the Nigerian woman her rights to be human was expunged from the document. Leaving it as a collection of words no better or stronger than ‘Ministry of Women’s Affairs’ established during the military dictatorship of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
A distraction, a mere paper that will end up, at best, on the concurrent list. Alongside other ‘unimportant and frivolous acts’ like the Child Rights Act, yet to be adopted by a ridiculous number of Nigerian States and the Violence Against Person’s Act which is presently only operative in Abuja and Lagos.
About five or six months ago we featured an article written by one of our contributors MaryAnne Kooda, during which she talked about a young girl of 14 Ese Oruru who was kidnapped from her home and forcibly married off to a man from the northern part of the country. Rumor has it that the girl, who was pregnant during that period has put to bed.
The matter was taken to court, but we’re yet to hear anything about the outcome of a case that appears to be going the way of other similar cases.
A bigger case emerged yesterday. The Emir of Katsina kidnapped and forcibly married a young girl of 14 off to his aide.
A few days ago, the Nigerian Presidents wife, Aishatu Buhari, granted an interview to BBC Hausa, where she raised concerns about how her husband is running the country. She stated that she will no longer campaign for her husband.
The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is presently in Germany on some national business said in response to questions concerning his wife’s interview – “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”
The message that we’re living in a misogynistic country is pounded in on a daily basis by religious leaders, the senate and sundry stray people who feel threatened particularly by growing demands that women’s contributions to the economic growth of Nigeria should be acknowledged and women should be given their rightful status as enshrined in Chapter Four of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(as amended) and now Nigeria’s number one citizen has put his stamp of approval on the way women are treated with condescension and brutality in Nigeria.
How could any country planning to progress and play catch up with the rest of the world in all spheres continue to treat half of its population with impunity and believe they will continue getting away with it.
And how long will we, as women continue to take this treatment? How long will we keep mute, for how long will we keep starving ourselves so as to be acceptable? When are we taking our power back?
When will enough truly be enough?