Teenage Girl Child Support & Development Initiative is a Non- Governmental Organization based in Nigeria, with her Head Office at Auchi, Edo State, and a branch office at Ede, Osun State. The organization is passionate about and committed to improving the status of the teenage girl child.
Our mission is to improve the status of the teenage girl child through various educative, informative and enlightenment programmes with the aim to understand their challenges and proffer possible solutions.
TEENAGE PREGNANCY"THE UGLY MONSTER"
Teenage pregnancy can simply be described as a situation where a girl child between the ages of 13-19 becomes pregnant. Over time, it has become a known fact that most young girls (over 47%) get sexually active before their 18th birthday. Majority of these girls have had unplanned pregnancy at one point or the other.
Over 72% of these pregnancies end up being aborted. Only less than 20% of abortion are done medically (pills or surgery) rather the teen may devise other crude alternatives.
CAUSES OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY
- Peer pressure that may result in under aged sexual relationships.
- Early marriage as obtained in certain customs and tradition.
- Sexual assaults resulting to rape.
- Drug misuse and abuse.
- Naïveté and low self-esteem.
- Inadequate parental love, care and support.
- Improper use of protection and/or contraceptives.
Even though over 72% of teenage pregnancies gets terminated which in some cases, result in severe medical complications or even death of the young girl, still those that keep theirs are likely to face certain challenges like;
- Dropping out of school.
- Being abandoned and rejected by family.
- Forced to engage in cheap and hard labor just to cater for themselves and their unborn.
- Forceful marriage to partner.
- Societal nuisance.
- Suffer depression and may even get suicidal.
Research has shown that, apart from the fact that the teenage girl suffers both physically and emotionally, the medical consequences surpasses and seems to be even more detrimental. Owing to the insufficient parental care and in most cases total abandonment, the pregnant teen is less likely to receive adequate prenatal care and even when she does, usually late. This trend may likely result in;
- Premature births and/or low birth weight.
- Health challenges and/or developmental delay of the child.
- Severe complications like prolonged or obstructed labor as a result of underdeveloped pelvis and/or improper positioning of the fetus requiring quick Caesarian Section and if unavailable may result in OBSETRICS FISTULA (a tear in the birth canal that causes leakage of urine and/or faeces).
- Maternal morbidity and mortality.
You will agree with me that knowing a problem is key to its solution. Now to "THE BIG QUESTION". How do we tackle this monster?
At TGCSDI, we think;
- Proper reproductive and sex health education is paramount.
- A girl child should be allowed to attain full maturity both physically and psychologically before marriage.
- It's true you cannot fully rule out peer pressure but teenagers could be guided adequately on their choice of peers, above all, parental love and care is key.
- Sexual assaulters must be properly convicted irrespective of their status in the society and relationship with their victims. Victims should be encouraged to report any form of assault, be it who. Also, the stigmatization of rape victims must stop and anyone who does should be sanctioned.
- Proper use of protection and contraceptives could be relevant but ABSTINENCE is the only sure way to prevent TEENAGE PRENGNANCY.
At TGCSDI, we disapprove of teenage sexual relationship and advocate for total abstinence
Teenage Girl Child Support and Development Initiative...together we can make it easier.
Rafat Otono G
SEXUAL ASSAULT AND RAPE "THE PLIGHT OF THE TEENAGE GIRL"
There are so many experiences and ill-treatment that the female specie struggle with even in this present day. More often than not, the birth of a girl child is not a pleasant news in many homes with so much insensitivity to the pains the mother undergoes for nine months and beyond. Many organizations over the years have sprung up to challenge the trend while also advocating for gender equality. So far their struggles have been quite yielding but there is more work to be done. Their struggle in most cases concentrate on the economic and political aspect but then, what happens to the social and cultural? Most culture, irrespective of the present day civilization, still believes in so many awkward, barbaric and inhumane practices with the girl child always at the receiving end.
How can we boost of a better society when about ¾ of its entire population is deprived, when the larger population lacks access to education, when the girl child is made to suffer from so many ill- cultural practices like genital mutilation, under aged marriage, sexual harassment and so much more? How can we develop as a people when our foundation is not solid enough and the builders, not experienced? Women are the bedrock and builders of the society. The female gender has and is still suffering a lot and worse is the fact that even though they suffer so much, they are still expected to remain mute; they dare not talk for the fear of being tagged "feminist".
Today, let us to about a very delicate aspect of one of such challenges that a teenage girl child has to struggle with even though most people shy away from talking about it; SEXUAL ASSULT AND/OR RAPE. What is sexual assault? According to Wikipedia; Sexual assault is an act in which a person sexually touches another person without the person's consent or to coerce a person physically to engage in sexual act without their consent. Having known what sexual assault is, let's also know what rape means. According to Wikipedia; Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without the person's consent. The act could be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who Is incapable of giving valid consent, such as; one who is un conscious, incapacitated, has intellectual disability or is below the level of consent.
Rape is one of the most heinous form of violence and the worst inhumane treatment against the girl child considering the fact that its effect is not just physical but emotional and the worse is the psychological trauma that follows. Most rape cases are usually perpetrated by persons with close relations to their victims and that makes it even more difficult to report and to seek help.
So many factors have been said to be reasons for rape but still not enough to justify this barbaric and ungodly act. Among the reasons are;
- Lewd/provocative dressing.
- Alcohol and drug abuse.
- Negligence on the part of the parents.
- Taking undue advantage of victims.
- Peer influence.
Having out listed the factors that may cause rape, one will be force to ask if any of the above can ever justify rape.In my own opinion, I will say a bold "NO" with all emphasis. I know some people may disagree but knowing the effect after, you will agree with me that nothing can ever justify this horrible act. Most victims of rape, even when they have to suffer so much pains, speaking up, asking for help and demanding justice is close to impossible. For the fear of being humiliated and stigmatized they choose to keep themselves, brooding over the hurt alone and suffering the psychological trauma for years. Culture and tradition beyond every reasonable doubt, has to a large extent made it practically difficult, in fact almost impossible to report rape cases. Let me give you two instances; Recently, in a local community in Edo state, Nigeria. A teenage girl of about 14 years was raped by her cousin and luckily, the young girl was bold enough to speak up but the family elders, upon confirming the crime, insisted that she kept it a secret and never said anything about it to anyone. The young girl was so pained and felt cheated while the perpetrator went score free and even made jest of her saying that; after she threatened to report to the family elders and actually making true her threat, nothing came out of it and nothing was done to him. The young girl felt cheated and used. So her brother, seeing the injustice, decided to make a formal report at the police station. The culprit was arrested and investigation began. When the family elders found out about the arrest, they held a meeting and concluded that the it was an abominable to arrest a family member and that the young girl and her family be ostracized for soiling the family name,the case was closed and she never got justice.
The second instance was that of Angel, a young of 13 who was raped by her father. Angel had malaria and was unable to go to school with her siblings. Her mother had gone to the market where she sold food items leaving her alone in the house. She had her drugs and slept off. When her father came in, he met her sleeping and there was nobody at home. He forced himself on her and threatened her not to disclose to anybody else she died. She kept the entire incidence for days but somehow her mother noticed the changes in her; she barely spoke to anyone, cried in secret and her gait was strange. All effort to make her speak up proved abortive and whenever she was asked, she just cried and refused to say a word. All through, the father claimed ignorance and didn't indicate any concern. The mother decided to take her to the hospital where the doctor confirmed that there was a forceful penetration. Finally, she was forced to speak up. At first the father denied but later owned up. The case was reported to the community elders and they concluded that it was kept a secret.
Effect of rape on the girl child could be physical and psychological.
- Bruises and bleeding around the vagina or anal area and sometime from other part as a result of coercion
- Painful intercourse
- Urinary infection
- Sexual transmitted diseases (STDs)- HIV, Gonorrhea Syphilis, Chlamydia, Genital warts etc.
- In rare cases, fistula.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Depression and may become suicidal
- Borderline personality disorder
- Feel victimized
Now, to the big questions; What can we do? and how can we tackle this?
Painfully, like I pointed out before, most of the rape cases remain unreported as victims refuse to speak up and even when they do, sometimes the perpetrators go unconvicted for lack of enough evidence or some other reasons and so the victims, most cases do not get justice.
Irrespective of the above, we must;
- Encourage victims to speak up regardless of who.
- Ensure the laws are properly enacted and offenders sanctioned accordingly regardless of their social, political and economic status or relationship with their victims.
- Help victims get proper counseling to make them heal faster and live their normal lives there after.
Conclusively, I want to appeal to everybody whether male or female, Young or oldand whether you are a victim or not, let's join hand together to condemn and fight against this evil trend. It may not be you but what about your mother, your sister, your daughter, your aunty or your friend? What if it ends up being you?
Be it sexual assault or rape, the practice is highly dehumanizing and totally unacceptable.
Rafat Otono G
A Student of Omowumi Group of School, Ede, Osun State
EDUCATION FOR ALL
Education means to teach, train, build, nurture and impart on the mind, character, abilities and potentials of an individual. It is to sustain and improves on the ideas, skills and facts of an individual. Education is the bedrock of all facets of development and transformation; be it social, economic or political. Therefore, education is the fundamental human right of everyone regardless of their age, gender, socio-economic status, nationality, race or any other consideration.
The Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, which was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in December 10, 1948 stipulated that:
- Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
- Education shall be directed to the full development of personality and the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nation, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
- Parent have the prior right to choose education to be given to their children.
Education is the water that quenches the taste of curiosity, the art that moulds and shapes the mind, the light that brightens the heart, soul and spirit, the strength that overcomes any weakness, the beauty that sparkles and lightens the dark path of intellectual blindness and the antidote to the misleading venom of ignorance.
The need and importance of education cannot be overemphasized as its benefits ranges from physical, mental to psychological thus, acquiring, propagating its importance and giving it, beyond every reasonable doubt is very imperative.
When we talk about formal education, to some, what comes to mind as the target individuals are the male as they believe their female contemporaries matter less in that aspect. According to Obanya (2007) The girl child educational attainment is low as records has shown that fewer girls go to school than boys.
There is a common saying that "educate a man; you educate an individual but educate a woman; you educate a nation" This beautiful, undistorted saying, practically summarizes the essence of education and mostly focusing on the girl child. In some parts of Africa, especially the rural areas, it has been the norm that girls hardly get the opportunity to acquire formal education and those who by chance are opportune to pass through the elementary stages are abruptly withdrawn afterwards. They are basically denied the opportunity to go beyond certain level and when they manage to reach the age 11, they are given out inmarriage with or without their will and consent and their parents seemingly with no other choice especially when the culture and tradition is in reference.
Children are leaders of tomorrow, they require proper grooming and utmost fitness; physically, mentally, psychologically, morally, socially etc. and these can only be achieved by education the girl who will grow up to be the mother and the first teacher of the children i.e. the future leaders.
SOME REASONS WHY THE GIRL CHILD IS DENIED EDUCATION
- Certain culture and tradition that promotes under aged marriage among girls
- Gender discrimination
Poverty is the state of being poor or indigent. It is the scarcity of means of subsistence. Poverty can simply be explained as not having enough money to meet basic needs including: food clothing, shelter etc. Africa happens to be the poorest continent in the world considering the fact that eighteen out of the twenty poorest countries by GDP per capital in the world happens to be African countries. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 223 million people in sub-Sahara Africa were hungry and malnourished in 2014- 2016. In 2012, 501 million people or about 47% of the population of sub-Sahara Africa, lived on $1.90 or even less a day. This has to a large extent affected the availability and access to formal education in the continent and in this case, mostly the girl child.
Poverty has remained a serious enemy to girl child education. Parents struggling to raise a child, often see poverty as adding extensive stress to the family hence, many girls who should be in class have being withdrawn to work for money (Driscoll and Nagel, 2010). The girl child may be forced into child labour for additional income just to help in the grueling requirements of life according to Onyeikeand Angela(2011). The girl child has for a long time suffer the inaccessibility to education owing to poverty. Most families would rather opt for the option of giving out their daughters out in marriage earlier than supposed since they cannot afford to provide for their basic needs (food, clothing and shelter) and with the hope of making personal gain from their bride prices and other material advantages, while others may even turn them to the breadwinners and have them hawk to meet the family need.
In some cases, the girl child may be given out for domestic labour in urban area for a regular income of the family (Ezeliora and Ezeokana, 2011); when unfortunately, she was supposed to be in school.
CULTURE AND TRADITION THAT PROMOTES UNDERAGED MARRIAGE OF THE GIRL CHILD
It is no news that in Africa, some girls go into marriage as young as 12 especially in rural communities. For communities that belief and practice this, not sending their female children to school isn't mostly about poverty but as a result of the norms and tradition. Girls are not allowed access to school at all and even if allowed, they are abruptly withdrawn once they get to a certain age or as soon as a suitor comes to seek their hand in marriage. For such culture, marriage is the sole aim of a woman's existence and it is in fact a thing of pride to give one's daughter out as young as possible. In some cases, female infants are betrothed as soon as they are born.The other rights are concluded and the marriage is consummated on request of the man; whenever he was ready.In this instance, even if such young girl were in school, she will be withdrawn abruptly to get married with or without her consent.
Parents that choose to allow their daughters to accesses education are mostly seen as alien and anti-cultural people and such girls are said to lack purposed. It is also believed that they are likely to become immoral and bring shame to their parents and community. In most communities in Africa, it is commonly believed that educated girls do not make good wives and most men feel intimidated by them so, they end up unmarried and in a bid to avoid this, most parents instead of allowing their daughters to go to school, are left with no other option than to give them out in marriage at a rather early age undermining their intellectual capabilities.
Gender inequality, discrimination and violence are unfortunate trends that has indeed cause hindrance to socio-economic development and sustainability with the girl child being at the receiving end. Contrary to Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right as adopted by UN General Assembly which stated that;
Everyone is entitled to all right and freedom set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other option, national or social origin, property, birth or other status… unfortunately, the girl child still suffers huge discrimination and mal-treat and rights violation ranging from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), under aged marriage, sexual assault, domestic violence child labour/trafficking and also access to formal education.
Some of the reasons for discrimination that pose huge threats and affects the chances of a girl child to access education are:
- Men are believed to be breadwinners and as such, deserve education more than the women.
- The males believed to be a support to their parents at old age.
- It is mostly believed that educating a girl child is a waste since she eventually gets married and leaves for her husband's house…only men are believed to can carry on the legacies of their parents.
WHY THE GIRL CHILD SHOULD BE ALLOWED ACCESS TO EDUCATION
Educating a girl child makes her independent, builds her confidence and helps her make accurate decisions. Education also makes a woman financially independent and a huge asset to the home and the society in general.
IMPOVE PRODUCTIVITY SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Women are the bedrock and builders of the society and educating the girl child will simply bring about an improved productivity from her. Women are blessed with a special kind of wisdom and compassionso, proper and unrestricted education plus that God given wisdom and compassion of the girl child, will definitely translate to a better society with an improve socio-economic transformation.
Children are leaders of tomorrow. The education of a child starts from home and with the mother. It is therefore imperative to educate the girl child to achieve a better and greater generation.There is a popular saying that "you can't give what you don't have"; you really can't.
IMPROVE MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH
"A healthy nation is a wealthy nation" A girl child is a life giver and her health is paramount. Proper education is a powerful tool that influencesoverall health. Women with proper education are more likely to marry at the right time and to a large extent avoid the health challenges that result from under-age marriage and they are more likely to seek medical services where necessary. Educated women more than their uneducated counterparts, tend to take better care of their children and also accept and appreciate medical practices like Immunization which most uneducated women are still skeptical about and would rather prefer the herbal alternatives without proper measure of the dosage. The general health practice and appreciation of its importance amongst women, has a strong connection with their level of education.
Having discovered this challenge and identified the possible causes, it is therefore recommended that: Vigorous campaign against gender discrimination especially concerning the restriction and denial of the girl child access to education. Proper enforcement on legislation on the rights of the girl as regards her access to education. Street hawking, girl child labour and trafficking should be banned among school age girls. Under-aged marriage should be discouraged and young girls should be sent to school. Government, welfare authorities and charity organizations may consider scholarships for outstanding girls from poor backgrounds.
Rafat Otono G.
Teenage Girl Child Support and Development Initiative
BE AN INFLUENCER
BE AN INFLUENCER
The strength of an individual is determined by the willingness to try, ability to push and the determination to keep trying. For winners, giving up wasn't, isn't and is never going to be an option. The truth is: life is not easy, it never was and it's never going to be. But wait a minute! Is it really so hard?
So many people have by themselves set limits, create barriers, placed restrictions and cut short possibilities for one unfounded reason or the other. A lot of people have become stagnated and even regressed simply because they have been faced with the minimal difficulty. They have given up so easily and condemn themselves by themselves. It's so sad!
And here I ask you:
- How dare you expect the journey to be easy when life itself isn't?
- Why must you think you can't when you barely gave it a try?
- Why do you have to give up so soon when you only needed to try harder?
Your limitations are those you set for yourself and irrespective of your gender, who you are, where you are or what you think, you can be an influencer. For many centuries, the female gender had unfortunately; suffer countless limitations set by the societal standards that had being with the limitations therein and also, because of the fact that women have shut themselves out of the outside world of relevance. They have lazily remained locked in and restricted themselves to roles that they really don't play so exceptionally well anymore; they say women are the homemakers which includes child upbringing. So, I ask how well we breed our children. Considering the fact that the society is suffering huge decadence with our children taking up strange vices; badly influenced by their peers. Many will blame it on the fact that women now go out to work to earn a living just like the men and so, have little or no time to meet their responsibilities in the home. And then I ask again how well do we influence the society and the people we meet irrespective of where we are; in or out?
Like I said earlier, you can do it if only you are willing to try and try harder. The society had suffered and continues to suffer from the lack of a mother's touch and a woman's impact; that same effort with which she rocks that nagging baby to sleep within minute, the strength with which she multitasks and yet every task is done amazingly well, the wisdom to handle any and every household challenge with steadfastness and determination when faced with any difficulty as par the family. Do we still need to confine ourselves to the home alone when the society is in dying need of our impact? If we are to restrict ourselves to the home and upbringing of our children alone then how sure are we that our children will not be wrongly influenced by the society that we have selfishly refused to influence? In my analogy, I will simply say is like a farmer that cultivates, nurtures his crops but out of being selfish, refuses to teach his neighbour to do same to his crops too and so unfortunately, his neighbour's crops got infested with this dangerous pest that eventually infested his own crops too and then he losses everything. How pathetic?
So many times, children from decent background with stay home mums who do all it takes to instill manners in their children still have them wrongly influenced by that horribly neglected society out there that she, with all her amazing mannerism had refused to influenced necessarily.
The society has suffered huge neglect. Did we (women) say we are builder, then what exactly are we building? If you say:
You don't know how to go about it; remember the word try.
It seems so difficult even though I've tried; consider trying harder. No matter how much I try I still can't; remember giving up isn't an option. When you hear people say "what a man can do a woman can do better", it isn't about feminism or gender battle but it's simply about the reality of the fact that women have this special talent of multitasking and doing that exceptionally. Also, anywhere they are or anything they partake in, they perform outstandingly well; it a free gift of nature and that of course, is a non-debatable fact.
Dear women, Remember you are the builders and makers of the society. Your responsibilities outstretch beyond the home. There is indeed a huge task ahead, there is a desperate call for help from the society out there and this is the time to put your womanhood to test. Are we going to fail, what excuse can we possibly give if we do?
It isn't going to be easy after all, life itself isn't but if we start now and teach the next generation of women (teenage girls) to do same, then I can boldly say that our society will be sane once again and the generations yet to come will be proud of us.
Dear influencers, the time to start is now; yes, now! Be you a career woman or a stay home you can:
Birth the society that you want your children and children's children to live in. Go out there, be an influencer and affect the world positively.
Remember, together we can make it easier.
Rafat Otono G.
Teenage Girl Child Support and Development Initiative