Stakeholders Seek End To Harmful Practices Against Girl Child

Stakeholders in Rivers State have called for a change, and total abolition of all harmful cultural and traditional practices binding the girl child from getting an equal opportunity like the boy.

The state holders drawn from among civil society organizations, community leaders, representatives of line ministries and other government agencies made their position known at an event to commemorate ‘The International Day of the Girl Child 2020’, organized by Rhema Care Integrated Development Centre, a non-governmental organization, at Ogbogoro and Eneka Communities in Obio/Akpor local government area of Rivers State.

Kelechi Okoroji-Ejemson, Executive Director of Rhema Care Integrated Development Centre, said the girl child appears at the middle most societal ills which has continued unabated due to the cultural believes and practices that denies a girl child an equal opportunity with the boy.

Kelechi said like this year theme: ‘My Voice Our Equal Future’, her organization in joining the global celebration of the girl child, is committed to amplifying the voice of the girl child to let stakeholders and parents know that the girl child deserves some support, so as to get positive response from relevant stakeholders and helping to bridge the gap between the girl child and the society.

She said Rhema Care as a duty to lend its voice to the voices of the girls, especially at community level and urged parents to give attention to the girl children and not shut them up, as they also have an equal opportunity like the boys.

Chairperson at the event, Iminabo Austen-Okoroafor, said the traditional norms of our environment and communities have hindered the growth of the girl child, as there has been so much deprivation of the girl child from exploring her potentials.

Austen-Okoroafor while regretting that greed and male-ego has blindfolded many from seeing the bright future of the girl child noted that the culture that binds the girl child from exploring and discovering herself should change.

In her words, ‘the believe that a girls expertise cannot go beyond a certain limit is false, as there are girls who have made it in society.

The voice of the girl child starts within her community, and community structures are the key to change in advocacy and policies’ Austen-Okoroafor stated.

On his part, Tombari Dumka-Kote, Chairman, Rivers Indigenous NGOs and Civil Society Network (RINGOCS), lamented the poor implementation of available laws that seek to protect the girl child from all forms of deprivation and abuse in the society.

Dumka-Kote hinted that the Rivers State Abolition of Female Circumcision Law (2001), the Dehumanizing and Harmful Traditional Practice Law (2005) and the Child Rights Act (2005) makes practices such as Female Genital Mutilation, and the ‘Sira Syndrome’ as practiced in some parts of Rivers State an offence, and punishable by law.

He called on traditional rulers and community leaders to put an end to all such obnoxious practices that endangers the girl child, while urging the relevant government agencies to rise to the occasion and work with the civil society in the State to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child in the State.

High point of the event was the signing of the commitment register by the various stakeholders including community leaders, religious leaders, representatives of government ministries and agencies, security agents, as well as civil society actors.

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