Ismail Rotimi Lawal
It is irrefutable that girl child abuse is still common in some part of the world, while the need to end this social ill is getting more attention than ever before. Girls are mostly exposed to oppression, violence, diseases, and death. In some communities, a girl child is seen as a liability; she is regarded as worthless and thus treated with contempt. As a result of poor respect and value the society have for girls, they have been exposed to violence, rape, slavery, unnecessary torture, and forced into early marriage.
In some cases, parents and guardians have used a girl child as collateral for their debt, they are also presented as gifts to elites in the society without considering their feelings and opinions. They are married off at a tender age before they attain maturity. Most of these young girls have no knowledge of and idea of what marriage is like before being married off.
Also, in some homes and cultures, a girl child receives less humanly treatments compared to a male child. Some girls living in low income countries are not given equal access and opportunity to western education as the male children. These girls spend most of their times going on errands, doing laundry, sweeping, and preparing meals for the family and thus increasing the numbers of illiterates in the society.
There are many cases in Nigeria where teenage girls are transported from southeast and southwest of Nigeria to serve as house-maids in urban cities like Lagos and Abuja. Often times, many of these girls do not go to school. These girls are not matured to take care of themselves and they are forced to play the role of a mother, a cook and a house keeper. They are brutally punished for minor mistakes, raped by male employer, and some have been beaten to death.
Furthermore, due to the ill-treatment and less attention girls receive in the society, they are more likely to be trafficked to Europe by human traffickers and exposed to prostitution. Many of these little girls that are taken to Europe through the illegal route often die in the Mediterranean Sea.
Undoubtedly, the unjust treatments the girls are receiving from the society are against the fundamental human right; the teachings of God and are nefarious.
Girls are important part of the society, they must be seen as people with identity and with equal rights with any other person. In places where a girl child is subjected to inhumane treatments and is seen as insignificant, the society suffers the most. Such societies are always exposed to poverty, chaos, violence, diseases and are mostly underdeveloped. While in a society where girls are treated with love, care, compassion, and are given quality education, there is better chance of development, peace, progress and security.
In many places around the world, especially in Africa, fathers do give preference to a male child over a female child. The male child is given better education from young age, while the female child is treated with disdain. This is a very wrong attitude which is undermining the development of this part of the world.
As the popular African proverb says:
“If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation”.
When women are educated, they educate the nation, they raise peaceful children, they contribute to the development of the nation, they find a way of survival for themselves, end child malnutrition, child mortality rates will drop and peace, progress and serenity will be restored.
Islam also prioritises the welfare of girl child. The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was reported to have said:
“Girls are models of affection and sympathy and a blessing to the family. If a person has a daughter, God will screen him from the fire of the hell owing to his daughter; if he has two daughters, God will admit him to Paradise; if he has three, God will exempt him from the obligations of charity and jihad.”
In another Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“The one who has three daughters born to him, and he is patient over them, and clothes them well according to his means, they will become a means of rescue for him from Hell.” (Bukhari, Al-Adab al-Mufrad, Ibn Majah).
This is limpid enough for us to understand as it shows that Islam has respect for girl child and hold them in high regard. Islam is against misogyny as it advocates for the fulfilment of girls and women’s rights.
On 24 September 2017, The World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Fifth Khalifa (Caliph), His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, while speaking on the status of women according to the teachings of Islam, cited Chapter 4 verse 2 of the Holy Quran which states that God Almighty created humankind from a “single soul and created therefrom its mate.”
Explaining the verse, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“The Quran testifies to the fact that men and women were created from a single soul and are of the same kind and species. Thus, where the Quran says ‘created therefrom its mate’ it signifies that Allah has made men and women in the same way and it cannot be said that one is dominant over the other.”
This means that both male and female are created equal, for they are from a single soul. Men are not superior to women in kindness and treatment.
On 11th October, 2012, International Day of the Girl Child, was declared by the United Nations with the aims to address the needs and challenges girls face, end inequality and promote girls access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and forced child marriage.
Hence, as we mark another International Day of Girl Child, as we look at matters affecting the girl child and try to provide solutions to the challenges, it is a matter of urgency for parents, community leaders, teachers, government, religion faithfuls and stakeholders to promote and maintain the right of girl child. All forms of girl child abuse must be eradicated in the world. We have to show fervour to end genital mutilation, sexual abuse, girl trafficking, child marriage, and give them the right to education, right to health, protection and every humanly support.
Parents and guardians should also change their nonchalant attitudes towards the girl child. The boy and girl child should be treated equally. All forms of family wont that threatened the rights of a girl’s child need to be reconsidered and abrogated.
We must remember that every girl child is human like every other child. Thus, we have to protect them at all cost and see them as greatest assets of our nation; as people with knowledge, innovative ideas and skills to build a progressive and peaceful world.
About the writer: Ismail Rotimi Lawal is a graduate of pharmaceutics. He’s a keen writer and Assistant Secretary Media & Publications of Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Organization, Nigeria. He is also a member of Muslim Writers’ Guild of Nigeria and the Programs Manager of Health Volunteers Naija, a Non-Governmental Organization – committed to enhanced community health in Nigeria.