Mr. David Charles hereby pleads not guilty to a one count charge of defilement after he was paraded at Ikeja magistrate court for rapping a ten year old daughter of his neighbor. He claims he did not penetrate the child but only caressed her vagina with his fingers, and in shock I ask Sir, what were your fingers doing on the vagina of a ten year old girl who was asked to get water from your fridge? I can’t help but ponder further on the matter. He asserted that the young girl requested to view pornography on his phone and again I asked, if a girl of ten years had truly requested to view pornography in a man’s phone, couldn’t the man decline her request? He had an option, but went ahead to defile the little girl. Certainly because he knows he can dominate her and make her feel responsible for a crime perpetrated against her.  Caressing a Minor’s vagina is a crime of sexual violence. The police prosecutor said the suspect did unlawfully defile the little girl which is an offence punishable under section 137 of the criminal law of Lagos state. The survivor of this preposterous crime of violence is only but a child who would go through moments of fear, helplessness, guilt, isolation, betrayal, anger, low self-esteem relationship problems, sexual difficulty, anxiety and negative body image over the years.

At this point I must reiterate that the crime of sexual violence is on the shoot in Nigeria and unfortunately often times, not reported. I stand to condemn the act of sexual violence against women and girls. There is need for every state government to domesticate national laws that protect women and girls from all forms of discrimination and violence.

For me, this is also an opportunity to call on necessary stake holders and independent institutions as well to re-examine the gaps and challenges surrounding the delay behind the passage of the GEO bill into Law. The Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill (GEOB) was rejected by members of Nigeria’s Senate on Tuesday the March 15th 2016. The GEO Bill seeks to guarantee the rights of women to access equal opportunities in employment and education. It also seeks to guarantee equal rights to inheritance for both male and female children .Understanding of the need of the GEOB in addressing the trend of violence and current issues in gender and security in Nigeria.

The Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill (GEOB) is an amalgamation of sections of gender focused treaties and policies especially the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women(CEDAW), the African Union Protocol on Human and people’s Right and the National Gender Policy. It is never late to take action to #EndViolence. Pass the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill.

Anozie Chinwendu

Alliances for Africa