Fascinated with the domestication of the federal Child Rights Act in Oyo State, the Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA), the state chapter, said on Wednesday that it would give the fillip to the protection of children.
Women lawyers in Oyo state described this as commendable, the domestication by the Gov. Abiola Ajimobi-led administration, noted that the rights of children particularly the girl-child were often violated by adults.
Mrs Folake Ajayi, the association’s chairperson, told reporters in Ibadan that the girl-child in Nigeria is faced with several challenges and her rights were at a “higher risk” of being breached. “The Child Rights Acts 2003 has been domesticated by Oyo State and is known as the Child Rights Law. This law will provide for and protect every child in the state.
“These rights can be divided into four major parts — Survival Rights, Protection Rights, Development Rights and Participation Rights,” she said. The lawyer named the challenges as genital mutilation, harmful traditional practices, child betrothal, child marriage, indecent assault, prostitution, sexual abuse, domestic violence and death.
According to her, the most peculiar rights of the girls most violated are child betrothal and early marriage. Ajayi said:“Child betrothal and marriage is when a girl-child is betrothed or married off. Section 23 and 24 of Oyo State Child Rights Law prohibits child marriage and betrothal.
“Under the law, a child is said to mean a person under the age of 18 and section 23 of same law says a person under the age of 18 is incapable of contracting a valid marriage.
“If such a marriage does take place or is contracted, it should be declared null and void and of no effect.” She, however, said the country’s 1999 Constitution “technically” approved of child marriage. “
It is depressing that Section 29(4) (b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has technically approved child marriage by its provision that: any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.”
On genital mutilation, the FIDA boss described it as a gross violation of a female’s body and the wicked mutilation of her genital., saying “it is a calculated attempt to suppress and oppress the woman in a girl.”
“Section 26 of Oyo State Child Rights Law specifically prohibits mutilation of the female genitals and anyone guilty of this offence is liable on conviction to a fine of N20,000 or imprisonment for a term of two years.
“Section 6 of Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 carries a penalty of four years imprisonment and a fine of N200,000 or both.”
Ajayi regretted that in spite of the prohibition of female genital mutilation, some mothers still submit their daughters for genital mutilation and called on parents, teachers, religious organisations, the media, the CSOs, as well as law enforcement agencies to rise up to the defence of the rights of the Nigerian child.
She also called for increased advocacy by the media, the schools and parents on the rights of the girls at home and at school.
“There should be full implementation of these laws because a law that is not implemented, in my own opinion, is a toothless bulldog.
“Parents and guardians should be alive to their responsibilities; it is unfortunate that some parents still violate the rights of their children more. “Our young girls should see themselves as God’s creation that has been commanded to rule their world.
They are not created for man’s pleasure,” said the FIDA chairperson.