| Her resilient spirit and the value of dignity she places on the African womanhood have always distinguished the Nigerian female. However, over a gradual period, these values have slowly but surely become eroded and the question that now stares us directly in the face now is: how did we get so low, so fast? How is it that a people who hitherto were renowned for the almost sacrosanct sanctity of womanhood have now become a symbol for female degradation?
Right from infancy, the average Nigerian female has to fight against all intimidating odds in order to live. Few ever manage to break free from the traditional shackles placed on the female child. Even in this 21st century age, many marriages break down simply because a woman repeatedly gives birth to female babies. The husband gets angry and either drives the wife away or gets a second wife. This is marital absurdity at its peak because one wonders if the baby is now less than a human is because she is a female. Moreover, if a woman would give birth to a male or female child depends entirely on the man and has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the woman! Next, the female baby is made to go through the harrowing and excruciating experience of circumcision commonly referred to as Female Genital Mutilation. A piece of the clitoris is chopped off using in most cases, crude and unsterilized instruments. The rationale behind this horror is the erroneous belief that circumcising a girl helps to control her sexual urges so she does not become a nymphomaniac! What the baby actually ends up with is sexual frigidity and pelvic inflammatory diseases from the dirty instruments used.
As the girl grows up, it is she who in some tribes do all the major work while the male child engages in “manly” activities like discussing with his friends while the fathers are drinking and planning to get second wives. Meanwhile because of the undeniably harsh economic life, the female child either willingly on her own accord or coerced by her parents is sent overseas to prostitute. Due to their highly spiritual nature, most of these girls who are as young as 11 years old are taken to “pastors” for prayers so that they can make money in prostitution. Others are taken to voodoo shrines where hair is shaved from her pubic parts, some finger nails are clipped, these girls are then made to kneel down naked before a shrine, insert their fingers into the private part of a female corpse and take an oath swearing to always obey their “madams” in Europe and never to run away as well as pay on time. Some of these girls go straight to Europe via flights and others go through the desert. The Saharan desert is an extremely harsh unforgiving environment even for a young healthy man talks less of a girl-child. Yet these girls are made to trek across the scorching desert heat. A frighteningly few percentage of them make it across. Others die from thirst, hunger, and gang rapes while some become pregnant from sexual abuses.
Entering Europe there is no utopia that these girls expected. Instead, it is the beginning of another phase of dehumanization of these girls. They are forced to go out and prostitute scantily dressed in extremely low temperatures at cold nights. Not only this, there is a fixed amount of money they are supposed to remit to their “madams” daily and anyone who brings less than this amount, gets beaten up. In order to buy their freedom from the madams, these girls have to pay as much as $45,000! Unwanted at home, forced to prostitute, hunted down by the immigrations authorities and the police of the host countries, despised by the citizens of the host countries, with no form of health, or social insurance, no working permits, no residence permit, ashamed to come back home empty handed, these girls eke out a meagre living. Meanwhile the family back home is demanding for one thing or the other. These girls are at the worst of both ends. They struggle to pay off their madams and at the same time, assist their families back home, also have investments back home only to come home when deported and find out all they sent home was squandered by their family. So back again to the streets of Venice they go!
For those who do decide to go to school, right from the secondary school, it’s one form of sexual abuse or the other. In higher institutions, it’s sex for good grades. After graduation, it’s sex for good jobs, sex to retain the job, sex for promotion and it just goes on. And woe betide her if she gets married and keeps giving birth to female kids because her husband would send her packing. If she doesn’t have children within a few years of marriage, she would be termed sterile and the husband advised to marry a “fertile” woman.
This is the story of a Nigerian girl child.
Written by Joseph Ohis. Izegs
Excerpts from his coming book:
“510 days in the life of an illegal immigrant”
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