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CURTAILING INJUSTICE AGAINST WOMEN IN NIGERIA: LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY MEASURES

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CURTAILING INJUSTICE AGAINST WOMEN IN NIGERIA: LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY MEASURES

CURTAILING INJUSTICE AGAINST WOMEN IN NIGERIA

 

Ani Comfort Chinyere (Mrs.)

LL.B (Hons.) BL; LL.M., Ph. D

View profile: https://bit.ly/3cv6UY2

 

 

Introduction

Women by virtue of their sex are prone to injustices which stem from how they are perceived in cultural, religious and family circles. The injustices are interrelated issues, bonded by the views that many around the world hold that women are second best, meant to be subjugated and should be controlled by men.

 

Traditionally in African societies, women are relegated to the background and this is applicable to Nigeria as well, where women are seen as socially and legally inferior to men. International instruments have recognized this vulnerability of women and have sought to curtail them through various instruments setting standards and benchmarks on the protection of women, which State Parties are required to adopt.

 

Some of the most critical issues relate to discrimination and unequal treatment, role in the family, violence against women, harmful traditional practices, marginalization in decision making and education, human trafficking etc.

 

This paper examines the various ramifications of injustices against women in Nigeria. It analyses the various International Instruments that prohibit unfairness against women while equally examining the domestic response to these injustices in Nigeria, through legislation, policy and action.

 

International Legal Framework

General Human Rights Instruments

Injustices against women are violations of the rights of women which they have firstly as human beings. These rights which they enjoy as a result of the common heritage of mankind have been recognized and guaranteed in international and regional Conventions as inalienable and indivisible human rights. The Preamble to the United Nations Charter of 1945, declares the promotion of human rights as one of its purposes. The Charter referred to the promotion of human rights. In Article 13 (b), the General Assembly is to initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of assisting in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.[1]

 

Other international instruments which enshrine such rights include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[2], the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[3] and its optional protocol, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment[4] amongst others. Regions of the world have also made efforts at codifying human rights, yielding the following instruments:

  1. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950;
  2. The American Convention on Human Rights of 1978;
  3. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1980.[5]
  4. The Association of South Asian Nations (ASEAN) Charter of 2007

These instruments from which the rights of women may be inferred, gives women’s rights a wide ambit for expansion, and are considered a kind of benchmark for measuring the various practices all over the world.[6]

Women Focused Instruments

Besides the Conventions which apply generally to everyone, the United Nations has adopted some other Conventions that are solely focused on protecting women. The major Conventions that focus on women are discussed below.

The Convention on the Nationality of Married Women[7]

The Convention on the Nationality of Married Women is one of such. The Convention was adopted in recognition of the fact that, conflicts in law with reference to nationality arise as a result of provisions concerning the loss or acquisition of nationality by women as a result of marriage, of its dissolution or of the change of nationality by the husband during marriage and the provisions of article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)[8]. The Convention provides for the statehood of women, irrespective of their marital status. It provides among other things that neither the celebration nor the dissolution of a marriage between one of its nationals and an alien, nor the change of nationality by the husband during marriage, shall automatically affect the nationality of the wife.[9]

The Convention on the Political Rights of Women[10]

Another major UN Instrument that focused on women is the Convention on the Political Rights of Women 1952. This Convention was born out of a desire to implement the principle of equality of rights for men and women contained in the Charter of the United Nations and in recognition that everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country. There was also a desire to equalize the status of men and women in the enjoyment and exercise of political rights, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[11] Some of the rights specifically guaranteed for women in the Convention, include: the right to vote in all elections on equal terms with men, without any discrimination;[12] right to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies on equal terms with men, without any discrimination;[13] right to hold public office and to exercise all public functions, established by national law, on equal terms with men, without any discrimination.[14]

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against women (CEDAW) [15]

In recognition of the fact of the continued existence of extensive discrimination against women and that such discrimination violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity, the UN adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against women (CEDAW). Some of the major highlights in CEDAW are that it gave attention to issues relating to the legal status of women, and restated the provisions of the Convention on the Political Rights of Women 1952.[16]

The situation of women as regards education[17], employment[18], and social life,[19] received special attention. Article 16 of the Convention provides for the elimination of discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and mandates States to ensure equality and same rights for men and women in all incidents of marriage.

 

The Convention is the foremost human rights treaty, which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:

  1. to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
  2. to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
  3. to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women[20]

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women came into being out of the conviction that there is a need for a clear and comprehensive definition of violence against women, a clear statement of the rights to be applied to ensure the elimination of violence against women in all its forms, a commitment by States in respect of their responsibilities, and a necessity for the international community at large to work towards the elimination of violence against women.

The Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (CSTPEP) of 1950[21]

This Convention makes copious provisions against human trafficking, especially women and children. It is aimed at punishing those involved in organizing and facilitating prostitution, including those who procure, entice, lead away or exploit others, even with their consent, to gratify the passions of another. It also seeks to punish those who manage, finance or provide premises for the purposes of prostitution. In addition, states undertook to provide rehabilitation and social adjustment for the victims of prostitution.

 

The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa[22]

By ratifying the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Nigeria, along with the other ratifying States undertook to combat all forms of discrimination against women at all levels and in all fields. Among other things, the country undertook to take concrete steps to ensure that in its Constitution and all other laws it is clearly stipulated that women and men are equal, and have the same rights. It is also obliged to enact and effectively implement appropriate laws or regulatory measures that prohibit and punish harmful practices which endanger the health and general well-being of women.[23]

 

All these Conventions meant for the protection of women have been ratified by Nigeria, but none has been domesticated. At this juncture, we will turn our attention to the various ramifications of injustices that exist against women in Nigeria, and afterward examine the domestic legislations and policies and action in place to curb such injustices.

Violence against Women

Article I of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women[24]  defines violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life[25].

As a result of pressure in the international arena against violence on women, this vice has been strongly condemned at several UN sponsored international conferences, including the 1985 World Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya, the 1993 World Conference in Vienna and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.

Violence and abuse against women happens in homes, on the streets, at work, in neighborhoods, in ethnic or religious conflicts, etc. Perpetrators and victims cut across class, ethnicity, age, professional/academic height and religion. The Declaration on the elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women[26] affirmed that violence against women constitute a violation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of women and impairs or nullifies their enjoyment of those rights and freedoms.

Domestic Violence

On a daily basis, Nigerian women are beaten, raped and even murdered by members of their family for supposed transgressions, which can range from not having meals ready on time to visiting family members without their husband’s permission.[27] Amnesty International reported in 2005 that up to two-thirds of women in certain communities in Lagos State, Nigeria are believed to have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in the family, with neither the Lagos government nor the Federal government doing anything to stem the tide of violence, and in some cases even condoning it.[28] Violence against women in the family in Nigeria is widespread and multifaceted. Husbands, partners and fathers are responsible for most of the violence, and in some cases, employers of domestic workers. Women in the extended family sometimes spearhead violence against their fellow women.

 

Violence within the domestic environment is accepted as normal and a thing that should not be reported. This preference to remain silent is due to shame; fear of stigmatization, further violence, divorce that might lead to losing custody of her children; culture and the likelihood of not being able to maintain herself and her kids financially.

 

Even where the woman braves it and makes a report at the police station, the police treat the matter as a child’s play and would be quick to tell the woman that the matter is a domestic affair and she should go home and settle the matter with her husband or relation as the case may be.

 

Amnesty International reported that the few rape victims who summon up the courage to take their cases to court face humiliating rules of evidence, patronizing and discriminatory attitudes from police and court officials, and little chance of justice[29]. Uzodike concurs that such violence had long existed to a significant degree in Nigeria, yet the law enforcement officials keep no records of complaints of these events, thereby making it difficult to ascertain the enormity or otherwise of the problem.[30]

 

Violence against women is further strengthened by the provisions of section 55 of the Penal Code, which authorizes a husband to chastise his wife for correctional purposes where both are subject to any native law or custom that recognize such correction as lawful, provided that the chastisement does not amount to grievous hurt. It has been rightly submitted that inflicting hurt, short of grievous hurt on a wife in the guise of correcting her, is not only repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience, but the law which allows it is also unconstitutional and therefore null and void.[31]

 

Acid Attacks

Another dimension of violence against women in Nigeria is the acid bath. Since the first case of acid bath in Nigeria, in 1990 of a former beauty queen in Port Hacourt, there have been countless cases of acid baths. These attacks have left the victims with terrible disfigurements. Such violence is deliberately intended to mutilate or kill and many women subjected to “acid bath” die as a result of the attack. These horrendous acts are usually perpetrated by persons who are close to the victims, usually ex-lovers.[32]

 

Assault by Agents of State

It is a usual occurrence in the streets of Nigerian cities for uniformed military men to assault and manhandle civilian citizens without passersby raising any eyebrow. There have been several reported and unreported assaults on women by state law enforcement officials. The perpetrators of these assaults range from junior ranking officials up to the senior ones. These officers unleash serious beatings on their victims, especially women at the slightest provocation. Quite recently, one Miss Uzoma Okere was beaten and striped naked in Lagos by six armed naval ratings attached to Rear Admiral Arogundade, for allegedly failing to give way quickly to Arogundade’s convoy.[33] This incident unlike the others in the past has attracted severe condemnation by several well meaning Nigerians, organizations and even the government. Okere has sued Arogundade, and Unknown Naval Ratings to court demanding N100 million damages.[34] Assault by state agents have continued unabated mainly because the victims often do not report their ordeals to the appropriate quarters. This is basically as a result of lack of knowledge of their rights and the “above the law image” the military have created in the psyche of the average Nigerian as a result of long years of military rule, which was characterized by massive human rights abuses. Need for mass reorientation and awareness of human rights is absolute in order to sensitize the citizenry on what to do when their rights are infringed.

 

Harmful Traditional Practices

Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation is defined as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the female external genitalia and /or injury to the female genital organs for cultural or any other therapeutic reasons.[35]

 

This practice is deeply ingrained in some local traditions in Nigeria. It is considered one of the rites of passage of young women into adulthood with the basic aim of rendering women sexually subordinate to men since it is claimed that it reduces sexual pleasure and thereby renders them less vulnerable to promiscuity.[36]

 

Female Genital Mutilation, otherwise known as female circumcision, or cliterectomy,[37]  has severe consequences. Former Minister for Health, Professor A.B.C Nwosu, identified the effects as ranging from health complications such as excessive bleeding, severe pain, shock, infections, urine retention, genital ulcerations, keloid, scar formation, HIV/AIDS/STIs, vesico vaginal fistula (vvf), recto vaginal fistula (rvf) resulting from damage to the urethra/rectum, to psychological complications where victims feel incomplete, suffer anxiety and become depressed, irritable and frigid.[38]

 

Reasons advanced for the continued perpetration of this dastardly act include: reducing sexual desire in females, thus curtailing promiscuity and promoting virginity before marriage, increasing male sexual pleasure, promoting social integration and initiation of girls into womanhood, hygienic and aesthetic reasons, myths around the survival of a baby whose head touches the clitoris during birth as well as religious reasons.[39] These reasons advanced for the continued perpetration of this vice do not have any verifiable basis. They are based on myths, which can not be scientifically proven.

 

 

Early Marriage

Certain cultures in Africa, Nigeria inclusive, permit child betrothal and early marriage. Young female children are betrothed to young boys or to older men, sometimes as early as in their infancy. Such a betrothed girl is expected to become the wife of the man to whom she was betrothed as soon as she reached puberty. Sometimes the girls are not betrothed but are out rightly married off to men completely against their wish. Invariably, the rights of such a “child-wife” are abused by her family and the so called husband. According to Akande, “The burden of child bearing and rearing is thrust on shoulders which carry a head that should still be on its mother’s laps”[40].  Such girls whose body anatomies are not yet mature to bear the effects of sexual intercourse and child bearing eventually end up in very regrettable conditions.

kande,   They are not even given any opportunity to accept or reject any marriage proposal. The marriage is contracted on their behalf by their parents or guardian as the case may be.  They

Early sexual activities and child bearing are characterized by multiple gynecological problems some of which include labour complications, vesico vaginal fistulae (vvf) and collapsed uterus.[41] In a study carried out in Department of Community Medicine, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, and Department of Community Medicine and Primary Care, Bayero University Kano, Nigeria, a total of 120 patients with vesico-vaginal fistula admitted at the VVF Centre of the Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital, Kano were investigated using structured questionnaires to determine their medical and social problems. Most of the patients 98(81.6%) had their first marriage between the ages of 10 – 15 years.[42]

 

The very pathetic aspect of the problem is that the girls who suffer from vvf, which is characterized by foul odour emanating from the urine and feaces which constantly leaks out, are abandoned after a while by the so called husband and ostracized by the family and society[43]. Studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that Nigeria may have one of the highest fistula prevalence rates in Africa. An estimated 400,000 to 800,000 Nigerian women are living with fistula, with 20,000 new cases added each year, according to a WHO document[44].

Dr Magashi painted a grim picture of the situation thus:

“Fistula Problem in Nigeria (Vesico- Vaginal and Recto – Vaginal Fistulae) are highly preventable problems as long as our politicians and policy makers will have the political will to make use of the adequate tax payers money in addressing women’s plight in our dear country . Nigeria with an estimated population of 126 million where high fertility rate is valued and a woman’s status is determined by her reproductive capacity with a total fertility rate which remains as high as 5.7 children/woman. Unfortunately, reproduction occurs under conditions that threaten the life and well being of women, resulting in very high level of maternal deaths. Nigeria’s maternal mortality ratio of 948/100,000 with a range of 339/100,000 to 1716/100,000 is one of the highest in the world. For each maternal death that occurs, 15 to 20 other women suffer either short or long term maternal morbidities. Prominent among these morbidities is Obstetric Fistula which the major one is the Vesico- Vaginal – Fistula (VVF). The commonest cause of VVF in Nigeria is Obstructed and Prolonged Labor   and this account for between 80 to 95 % of all the cases seen. VVF resulting from obstructed labor occurs when a young woman with prolonged labor due to cephalo-pelvic disproportion and cannot get timely Caesarian Section to relieve the obstruction. Other cause of VVF which is also common is Gishiri Cut, a traditional cut done by Traditional Birth Attendants to increase the size of the private part of a lady during labour when there is obstruction”. [45]

 

The statement above is an indictment on the Government. Besides the problem associated with early child birth, it raises issues bothering on women’s reproductive rights.

 

There has been a lot of interventionist programs aimed at treating vvf patients especially in Northern Nigeria. Recently, the UN Fund for Population Activity (UNFPA), in collaboration with the Nigerian government and some local and foreign non governmental organizations, held a two-week free treatment programme tagged ”Fistula Fortnight” during which hundreds of Nigerian women in four endemic Northern States of Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Kano were repaired surgically. Funding was from Sweden and Finland. At the end of the exercise in the four centers, 545 vvf patients received free surgery.[46] While government concentrates efforts at treating vvf and rvf patients, little or no attention is paid towards addressing the root cause of the problem which is early marriage and pregnancy.

 

Widowhood practices      

The nature of widowhood practices in Nigeria varies in the severity and adherence depending on the socio-cultural milieu of each ethnic group.[47] The factors which are responsible for the persistence of degrading widowhood rights despite the processes of change which have swept away other previously obnoxious practices are illiteracy and the shunning of the actual practice of the funeral rites as prescribed by the two dominant religions in Nigeria, Christianity and Islam.[48]

 

The provisions in section 4 of the Enugu State Prohibition of Infringement of a Widow’s or Widower’s Fundamental Rights Law, 2001, while outlawing harmful practices against widows and widowers, reveals in a very lucid manner, all the injustices widows are subjected to in various parts of Nigeria and in Enugu State in particular. The section states as follows:

No person shall compel a widow or widower to:

  1. to permit the hairs on the head or any other part of the body to be shaved
  2. to sleep either alone or in the same bed or be locked in a room with the corpse of the husband or wife
  3. not to receive condolence visits from sympathizers during the mourning period
  4. to be remarried by a relative of the late husband/wife
  5. to sit on the floor or be naked during any period of the burial rights
  6. to drink water used in washing the corpse of the husband /wife
  7. to weep and wail loudly at intervals and at any time after the death of the husband/ wife except at ones own volition or involuntary action
  8. to remain in confinement after the death of the husband for a given period.
  9. To vacate the matrimonial home
  10. To do any other thing which contravenes the fundamental rights entrenched in the Constitution

 

It is impossible not to notice the language employed by the drafters of this law, which is gender neutral. The language makes it appear as if both men and women are subjected to the same injustices at the demise of a spouse this is far from the actual occurrence. Widowhood rites are a subset of discriminatory practices against women, because widowers are expected to observe minimal, harmless and sometime indulgent rites.[49]

 

Omiyi acknowledged that quite often, the widow’s right to inheritance under the Marriage Act is ignored by the deceased relatives who regard the deceased estate as their birth right. Even where the deceased left a will, such wills are ignored by the deceased relatives and the widow receives nothing eventually.[50]

 

Discrimination against Women

The patriarchal system in the country and subsisting cultural practices have continued to engender discriminatory practices against women. The position in Islam is that men are to protect and maintain the women[51]. This presupposes a certainty that the women are weak, need to be defended and cared for, while the men are superior.

 

Discriminatory statutory Provisions

Discriminatory legislation further compounds the problem of violence against women in Nigeria. For example, under the Nigerian Criminal Code[52], the penalty for indecent assault against a

man is higher than that for a woman.  Section 353 provides for a punishment of imprisonment for three years for any person who unlawfully and indecently assaults any male person, while Section 360 stipulates imprisonment for two years for any person who unlawfully and indecently assaults a woman or girl. This discriminatory attitude of the drafters of this law, in making the offence more serious when committed on a male more than a female, goes to show a society that thinks little about the gravity of the offence against the female. This offends against every constitutional guarantee of equality.[53]

 

Oyajobi challenged the definition of “prostitution” in section 1 of the Criminal Code as being sex specific, with the consequential result that only females may be labelled “prostitute”.[54] The Sharia Penal Code which is practiced in over 13 Northern States in Nigeria is replete with provisions that are discriminatory against women.  Such provisions include the discriminatory stoning to death and flogging of women for the offence of fornication and adultery.[55] Equally obnoxious is the provision of section 55 of the Penal Code which allows a man to reasonably chastise his wife. This law gives a wide room for abuses and encourages domestic violence. It has been contended that the question of determining what is reasonable chastisement depends on the woman’s capacity to bear the inhuman treatment without complaining than on the legality of interpretation by the courts because very few cases if any, have ever been brought for such judicial exercise[56].

 

Some discriminatory practices against women exist in the police force. Section 124 of the Police Act[57] requires that an unmarried woman who becomes pregnant is to be discharged from the force and not to be enlisted except with the approval of the Inspector General. There is no corresponding provision regarding an unmarried male officer who impregnates a woman. This provision surely would have led to series of unwanted abortions among the women police who desperately want to keep their jobs. Police regulation 127, features another discriminatory practice. It provides that a female police officer must first apply in writing furnish the intending husbands name, address and occupation and obtain the Commissioners permission before going ahead to marry. If the reason for this provision is to avoid a situation where an officer gets married to a criminal, who might have a negative influence on the officer, then nothing stops the male officers from being bound by the same regulation.

 

Besides the discriminatory practices on female members of the police, the police also discriminate against women when it comes to the issue of a woman standing as surety for a suspect in bail applications. Despite the fact that there is no legal provision prohibiting women from standing as sureties for crime suspects, the police routinely deny women the opportunity of acting as sureties even when they are well placed in the society or when their relation is involved. This worrisome situation prompted the Lagos State Government to include in the recent Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2007[58], a section on female sureties.   Section 118 (3) laid to rest any doubts about this practice by providing that no person shall be denied or prevented or restricted from entering into any recognizance or standing surety or providing any security on the ground that the person is a woman.

 

Participation in Decision Making

Women in Nigeria have continued to be marginalized in the politics, public life and decision making. This is a spill over effect of the traditional notion where decision making on most important matters in the nuclear or extended family and the wider community was regarded as the exclusive responsibility of males. Women were generally not expected to participate in community meetings and were not seen as potential sources of leadership.[59] These attitudes have not completely changed and have kept women participation in politics quite marginal. Even in the last general elections which took place in 2007, only 6% of the elected positions were occupied by women[60]. This clearly exposes the magnitude of the gender insensitivity in the national polity. This notion of male domineering leadership has been so deeply imbedded in the psyche of the populace that women also do not believe in the ability of fellow women to occupy important positions.

 

Education

The positive effects of educating a woman can not be overemphasized. Educating women reduces maternal mortality rates, improves the health for the whole family, and enables them to efficiently manage natural resources. There is also the likelihood that an educated woman will ensure that her own children; both male and female will be educated, thereby reducing illiteracy in our society. This is an important factor in breaking the vicious multigenerational circle of poor health, low educational opportunity, low income, low self esteem, high fertility rates and poor overall child health.[61]

 

The right to receive education has been well secured by a number of international Conventions which Nigeria has ratified. Every girl has the right to a free and compulsory primary education[62]  and a higher education that is based on merit[63].  Women are also guaranteed equal rights with men in receiving vocational training and education in technology.[64] The right to have continuing education, literacy programs and any type of education that reduces the gap in education between men and women is also guaranteed. [65]

 

Despite government efforts at providing free education at the primary level, statistics have shown that female access to education remains lower than male access.  The primary school enrolment statistics for 2005 show that 55.9% of enrolments were boys while 44.1% were girls. In secondary schools, 55.45% of boys enrolled while girls made up 44.55%. In the higher institutions, only 39.70% of graduates from universities are female.[66]

 

This situation of low female enrolment in schools is fuelled by the traditional belief that it is wasteful to educate a girl who will eventually get married and leave the family and also the reliance on females as domestic labour. This state of affairs invariably results in high rates of female illiteracy.  The manifold effects translates to female extensive participation in agriculture and the informal economy, but little participation in the formal sector, especially in the professional, technical and managerial jobs.[67]

 

 

 

Women Trafficking

Trafficking has been defined to include:

…all acts and attempted acts involved in the recruitment, transportation within or across Nigerian borders, purchase, sale, transfer, receipt or harbouring of a person involving the use of deception, coercion or debt bondage for the purpose of placing or holding the person whether for or not in involuntary servitude (domestic, sexual or reproductive) in force or bonded labour, or in slavery-like conditions.[68]

 

Nigeria has acquired a negative reputation for being one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with cross-border and internal trafficking[69]. This position was corroborated when the Nigerian Minister of Labour, Dr. Hassan Muhammad Lawal, declared that Nigeria has more cases of trafficking of women to Europe and Middle East than any other African country[70].

Poverty, war, lack of information, gender inequality and high demand for cheap labor put demographic populations such as women and children at high risk.[71]

 

Men, women, and children are trafficked for many purposes – sexual exploitation, begging, underpaid and exploited forced labour in the agricultural, manufacturing and construction industries, domestic service and organ harvesting.

Besides major destinations like the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Austria and France, Italy is host to the second-largest group of Nigerians and is the most important destination for Nigerian victims of trafficking. [72]

Article 6 of CEDAW urges state parties to take appropriate measures, including legislation to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation for prostitution.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that no one shall be held in slavery or servitude and prohibits slavery and the slave trade in all their forms.[73]

Article 16 of the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (CSTPEP) provides that countries are to take measures to prevent prostitution through educational, health, economic and other services. Countries are also mandated to watch railway stations, seaports and transportation to prevent the international trafficking of people[74]. Countries are enjoined to punish any one who does the following:

  1. brings slaves from one country to another[75];
  2. forces or persuades another person into prostitution, even if that person agrees[76];
  3. manages or finances a brothel[77];
  4. profits from the prostitution of another person[78]

 

Domestic Legislations

In Nigeria, the Constitution[79] and various other legislations, both Federal and State contain provisions that guarantee the rights of every Nigerian. The fundamental human rights provisions of the Constitution guarantees the right to life[80], right to respect for the dignity of the human person, and not to be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment[81]; right to personal liberty[82]; right to fair hearing[83]; right to private and family life[84]; right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion[85]; right to freedom of expression[86]; right o peaceful assembly[87]; right to freedom of movement[88]; right to freedom from discrimination[89]; and right to acquire and own immovable property[90] The Fundamental Objectives and Directives Principles of State Policy[91] contains some provisions supportive of women rights such as equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law;[92] maintenance of human dignity; equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, or any other ground;[93] equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels[94], etc.  Though these principles are not justiciable, it is the duty and responsibility of all organs of government and all authorities and persons exercising legislative; executive or judicial powers to conform to, observe and apply the principles.[95]

It was in recognition of the fundamental social objective that the Government of Nigeria formulated the Social Development Policy in 1990 which while emphasizing on the equality or rights guaranteed by the Constitution regardless of sex, recognized the fact that the Nigerian women have fallen short of the expectation as guaranteed by the Constitution.

By the provision of section 21 of the Child Right Act, no person under the age of 18 years is capable of contracting a valid marriage and a marriage so contracted is null and void and of no effect whatsoever. Section 22 of the same Act, prohibits the betrothal of a child to any person. A person who marries a child, or to whom a child is betrothed, or who promotes the marriage of a child or who betroths a child commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000, or imprisonment for a term of five years or to both such fine and imprisonment[96].  Despite these laws, child marriages are still being contracted. There is need for government to engage in aggressive enforcement of these laws. The mass media have a role to play in enlightening the populace on the evils of early marriage.

 

Besides the provision in Chapter II of the Constitution to the effect that the Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy and provide free compulsory education, the African Charter also provides that every individual shall have the right to education.  Section 15 of the Child Rights Act 2003, provides that every Child has a right to free, compulsory and universal basic education to be provided by the Government. Subsection 5 provides that a female child who becomes pregnant before completing her education is to be given the opportunity after delivery to continue with her education on the basis of her individual ability.

 

Section 30 of the Child Rights Act, prohibits buying, selling, hiring or otherwise dealing with children for the purpose of hawking or begging for alms or prostitution.

The Penal Code is fashioned along Islamic laws and criminalizes prostitution.[97]  In the southern part of Nigeria, the Criminal Code does not criminalize prostitution but does prohibit the operation of brothels and forbids anyone from living on the earnings of prostitutes.[98]

 

Nigeria ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children in 2001 and passed a national law against trafficking entitled “Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act” 2003[99]. This law prohibits trafficking in persons in all its ramifications. The National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) was established under the Act[100] to enforce the Act[101].  Nigeria and Benin signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2003 to cooperate in returning criminals to requesting state authorities, identify, prosecute agents and traffickers and protect victims of child trafficking and return them to their country[102].  Government and non –governmental efforts in combating trafficking has recorded modest successes in the prevention and combating of the crime, and has created awareness on the unlawful practice.[103]

 

Several State Governments have passed laws that specifically address issues of concern for women in a bid to eliminate the injustices against women among such laws are:

The Enugu State Prohibition of Infringement of a Widow’s or Widower’s Fundamental Rights Law, 2001.[104]

The Rivers State Reproductive Health Service Law, 2003.[105]

Edo State Maternal Mortality Monitoring Law, 2001.[106]

Edo State Law to Prohibit Female Genital Mutilation Law,1999.

Cross River State Prohibition of Girl Child Marriages and Female Circumcision or Genital Mutilation, Law, 2000.  

It is essential for states that have not been active in passing laws that address the injustices against women to wake up to their responsibility and pass as well as enforce laws so passed that address injustices against women.

Policies and Programs

Apart from various workshops and symposia with the sole agenda of women emancipation, government has supported the women cause by establishing various women-oriented Associations and Organizations. Some of these government initiatives include: National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), (now the Federal Ministry for Women Affairs), the National Centre for Women Development, 1995; the International Women Societies; the Better Life for Rural Women; the Family Support Programme, 1995; Women Rights Emancipation and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), 1998; Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF) and the National Policy on Women in Nigeria.[107] Mafa and Bukar noted that the civilian dispensation appeared to be taking a middle-course approach on the issue of gender equality having regard to its policies, which are not as radical and as aggressive as obtained under the military dispensation.[108]

The National Gender Policy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which replaced the National Policy on Women, is aligned with relevant regional and international instruments and protocols.[109] The forward to the Policy, states as follows:

The Government of Nigeria is committed to building a nation devoid of gender discrimination, guaranteeing equal access to political social and economic wealth creation opportunities for women and men and developing a culture that places premium on the protection of all, including children. In furtherance to this goal, Government shall promote the full participation of women, men, girls and boys by involving both the public and private sectors as agents of development.[110]   

The 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly Goal 3, exclusively recognizes the need for gender equity in development.

Women NGOs

Non State Actors[111] have been influential in the fight against injustices meted out on women in Nigeria.  The positive activities of the Non Governmental Organizations in the fight against injustices on women have reached out directly to the victims of the injustices especially in the rural areas much more than the government programmes. Some of these efforts include:

  1. The establishment of outreach centres for enlightening women on their rights, counseling and empowerment to make their voices heard in issues affecting them.[112]
  2. The creation of safe havens/halfway centres for battered women.
  3. Provision of micro-credit , grassroots management training and micro-insurance scheme for thousands of women to reduce their vulnerability[113]
  4. Lobbying for the passage of laws against widowhood rites, disinheritance of women, and Female Genital Mutilation and early marriage.
  5. Organization of capacity building for women in politics, which resulted in a greater number of women in politics.[114]

The NGOs deserve appreciation for their unrelenting effort at eradicating injustices against women. However, more will be achieved if the NGO’s would work more in a coalition for better cooperation that would achieve greater results.

 

Conclusion

This article has considered the various ramifications of injustices against women along with                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               the international and domestic legislations and policies put in place to protect them from these injustices. It is of the view that Nigeria is not lacking in legislation or policy concerning protection of women. However, there are some aspects of our laws that still appear to be chauvinistic, which requires amendment.

 

A major problem still remains traditional and cultural beliefs that relegate the woman to the background and the preference to train the male child rather than the female child. Equally deep rooted is the penchant in some areas like Edo State for families to encourage their daughters to travel abroad for prostitution because of the financial returns they hope to get from them. Traditional and religious leaders have roles to play in enlightening their subjects on the benefits of female education and the evils of human trafficking both for prostitution and domestic labour.

 

It is very necessary that individuals, men and women inclusive know their rights under the various laws. This will go a long way in making the efforts of the government and other stake holders to have ample outcome. The role of the mass media and the Ministries of Information and Women Affairs in this direction is very crucial.

 

There is a continuing need for the domestication and implementation of international legislations which Nigeria has ratified.  While it is crucial that the government summons up the will to review all the past policies on women and determine to enforce the laws and policies already laid down, it is acknowledged that legislation and law enforcement alone cannot provide adequate prevention.  The root causes of injustice against women such as traditional and cultural beliefs and practices, poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, unemployment, porous borders and economic conditions must be addressed through measures such as raising public awareness regarding human rights and the risks of trafficking, providing women empowerment schemes, providing necessary protection, micro credit assistance and vocational training for better income generation possibilities, improvement of the economy etc. The economy of the nation requires improvement that will empower girls and women through education, employment and necessary professional opportunities to resist the temptation of human trafficking and also defend themselves against violence and any harmful traditional practice. The persistence of harmful cultural practices, constant loss of young women and children to sexual and forced labour require resolute and constant attention by all and sundry.

 

 

KEYNOTES:

  • By Ani Comfort Chinyere (Mrs.) LL.B., (Hons.) BL., LL.M., Research Fellow, Nigerian Institute of

Advanced Legal Studies, Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]

 

[1] See also Article 55 of the United Nations Charter.

[1] Adopted by the U. N. General Assembly on December 10, 1948. General Assembly Resolution, 217A    

    (iii) of December 1948.

[1] General Assembly Resolution 2200 (xxii) of 16 December 1966.

[1] General Assembly Resolution 39/46 of December 1984.

[1] Adopted at the summit of Heads of State and Government at Nairobi, Kenya in 1981, and came into force on October 21, 1986. Article 4 provides that human beings are inviolable and are entitled to respect for life, and integrity of his person. Article 2 of the Charter prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, sex, language, religion, political orientation or any other belief, national and social origin, wealth, birth or other status

[1] See Ilumoka A. O., “African Women’s Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights-Toward a Relevant Theory and Practice”, in Cook R. J., (Ed.) Human Rights of Women (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), p. 313

[1] General Assembly Resolution 1040 (xi) of 29 January, 1957

[1] See the opening statement of the Convention. Article 15 of the UDHR provides that everyone has the

right to a nationality and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality or denied the right to

change his nationality.

[1] See Article 1 of the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women.

[1] General Assembly Resolution 640 (vii) of 20th December, 1952.

[1] See the opening statement of the Convention.

[1] Article I

[1] Article II

[1] Article III

[1] Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. It entered into force as an international treaty on 3 September 1981 after the twentieth country had ratified it.

[1] See Articles 7, and 8 of CEDAW on the rights to vote in all elections and public referenda, to participate in formulating of government policy and implementing them, to hold public office, to perform all public functions at all levels of government and to represent their countries at the international level.

[1] Article 10, ibid

[1] Article 11, ibid

[1] Article 13, ibid

[1] General Assembly resolution 48/104 of 20 December 1993.

[1] Entered into force in 1951. Some of the other Conventions meant to protect women especially at work include: The Equal Remuneration Convention, Convention Concerning Equal Opportunities and equal treatment for Men and Women with Family Responsibilities and the Maternity Protection Convention.

[1] Adopted in Maputo in July 2003.

[1] Article 2, ibid. Nigeria has also ratified the African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, 2004

[1] Op. cit. note 20.

[1] The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on The Rights of Women in Africa, adopts a similar but wider definition of violence against women. The Protocol defines violence against women as: “all acts perpetrated against women which cause or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological, and economic harm, including the threat to take such acts; or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life in peace time and during situations of armed conflicts or of war”.

[1] Op. cit. note 20.

[1] Amnesty International Press Release Ai Index: Afr 44/012/2005 (Public) News Service No: 144, 31 May 2005.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Op. cit. note 27.

[1] Uzodike E. N. U., “Protection Against Domestic Violence”, in Agbede I. A., and Akanki E. O., (Eds.),  Current Themes in Nigerian Law,(Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, 1997), p. 335. 40 police officers from different divisions in Lagos State who were interviewed by Uzodike regarding their attitude to domestic violence all believed that it was wrong to meddle in domestic matters between husband and wife, even if it involved serious assaults. Even when approached over an incident, their approach would rather be mediatory and not accusatory. Ibid, p. 349.

[1] Augie A. A., “Women’s Rights in Law and Practice: Social Welfare”, in A. O. Obilade (Ed.) Women in Law, (Unilag/ Southern University Baton Rogue, Louisiana 70813, 1993), p. 251.

[1] For a chronicle of such cases, see Women’s Human Rights in Nigeria, January 15, 1966 – May 29, 1999. (BAOBAB for W                omen’s Human Rights, 2003, pp. 19-20.

[1] See The Punch Newspaper, November 7, 2008, p. 2.

[1] Ibid. Available at: http://www.punchng.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art200903124322576. Last visited on 12/3/2009.

[1] World Health Organization, 1995. Adopted by the National Policy and Plan of Action on Elimination of

Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria. Federal Ministry of Health, October, 2002.

[1] Akande J., “Aparteid in Gender”, in Akande J., (Ed.), Miscellany at Law and Gender Relations, (Lagos:

MIJ Professional Publishers Ltd., 1999),  p.159.

[1] Ibid

[1] See statement of Prof. A. B. C. Nwosu in the National Policy and Plan of Action on Elimination of

Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria, (Federal Ministry of Health, October, 2002), p. iii.

[1] National Policy and Plan of Action, ibid.

[1] Akande J., “Women and the Law” in Obilade A. O. (Ed.) Women in Law, op. cit. note 31, p. 9.

[1] Atsenuwa A. V., “Women’s Rights Within the Family Context: Law and Practice”, in Akande J., (Ed.)

Miscellany at Law, op. cit. note 34, p. 120.

[1] See M. Kabir, Z. Iliyasu, I. S. Abubakar and U. I. Umar “medico-social problems of patients with vesico-              vaginal fistula in murtala mohammed specialist hospital, kano” in Annals of African Medicine
Usman Danfodiyo Teaching Hospital Sokoto and Annals of African Medicine Society Vol. 2, Num. 2, 2003, Pp. 54-57.

[1] Akande J. “Women and the Law”, op. cit. note 40, p. 9.

[1] See Toye Olori “UNFPA embarks on a rescue mission” Available at: http://www.newsfromafrica.org/newsfromafrica/articles/art_10217.html. Last visited on 11/3/2009.

[1] See Health Interactive With Dr Aminu Magashi How to Eradicate Fistula Problem In Nigeria. Available at: http://www.gamji.com/magashi/magashi54.htm. Last visited on 11/3/2009.

 

[1] See Toye Olori “UNFPA Embarks on a Rescue Mission” op. cit. note 44.

[1] Impact of Cross Cultural and Inter-Religious Marriages on Widowhood in Nigeria (Human

Development Initiatives and the Department of Sociology, University of Lagos, 2005), p. 10.

[1] Oloko S. B. “A Panoramic View of Widowhood in Nigeria”, in Owasanoye B., and Ahonsi B. (Ed.),

Widowhood in Nigeria, Issues, Problems and Prospects, (Freedrich Ebert Foundation and Human

Development Initiatives, 1997),  P. 8

[1] The Impact of Widowhood on Children of Widows in Lagos, (Lagos: Human Development Initiatives,

2007), p. 2.

[1] Omoiy S., “A Critical Appraisal of the Legal Status of Women under the Nigerian Law” in Kalu A., and

Osibajo (Ed.),Women and Children under the Law, (Lagos: Federal Ministry  of Justice” 1989) P. 73

[1] Holy Quaran Chapter 4:34

[1] Cap. C 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004

[1] Oyajobi A.V., “Better Protection for Women and Children under the Law”, in Kalu A. U., and Osinbajo Y., (Ed.), Women and Children Under the Law, (Lagos: Federal Ministry of Justice), 1989, p. 23.

[1] Ibid, p. 23. Section 1 of the Criminal Code defines “prostitution as including the offering by a female of

her body commonly for acts of lewdness for payment although there is no act or offer of an act of

ordinary sexual connection. This is in contrast with the sex neutral dictionary definition of a “prostitute”.

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (Wehmeier (Ed.), 6th ed.  Oxford University Press, 2001),

defines a “prostitute” as a person who has sex for money.

[1] The cases of Saffiya Tugartudu and Amina Lawal were two prominent cases where the weight of the

Sharia law was brought to bear.

[1] Akande J., “Women and the Law”, op. cit. note 40, P. 17.

[1] Cap. P. 19 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004

[1] See Lagos State Government Notice No. 25, Law No. 10, Lagos State of Nigeria Official Gazette, 20th

March, 2008.

[1] Hodges A., (Ed.), Children’s and Women’s Rights in Nigeria: A Wake up Call (UNICEF 2001), p. 14

[1] See the CEDAW and Accountability to Gender Equality in Nigeria. A Shadow Report (WACOL, 2008),  p. 5

[1] Jsemler V., Walker A., Weiner L., Johnson T., and Katz j. (Eds.) Rights of Women  (New York:

International Women’s Tribune Centre, 1998), p. 31.

[1] Article 26 (1) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 13 (2) (a) International

   Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Article 10 Convention on the Elimination

   of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Article 28 (1) (A) Convention on the Rights of the Child

   (CRC), Article 4 (a) Convention Against Discrimination in Education (CDE), Article 80 (b), 81 (b),

279(a)  UN Fourth World Conference on Women Platform for Action (PFA)  

[1]Article 26 UNDHR; Article 10 (d) CEDAW; Article 13 (2) (c) ICESCR; Article 28 (1) (b) CRC; Article 4

(a) CDE and Article 80 (e) PFA.

[1] Aticle 10 (a) CEDAW,  Article 82 (e), 83 (f), PFA

[1] Aticle 10 (e) CEDAW, Article 82 , 88 (a-c) PFA

[1] See The Shadow Report, op. cit. note 60, p. 4

[1] Jsemler V., Walker A., Weiner L., Johnson T., and Katz j. (Eds.) Rights of Women op. cit. note 61.

[1] Section 50, Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act” 2003.

[1] Policy Paper on Human Trafficking in Nigeria SHS/CCT/2006/PI/H/2, P. 9.

[1] Available at www//allafrica.com/stories/200711220512.html. Last visited on 13/3/2009.

[1] Policy Paper ibid. P.22.

[1] See “Human Trafficking from Nigeria to Europe” A report of International Organization for Migration,

available at: http://www.iom.int/jahia/jsp/index.jsp

[1] Article 4. See also Article 8 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and

Article 3 (1) of the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery the Slave Trade and

   Institutions and Practices similar to Slavery (SCAS)

[1] Article 17 CSTPEP. See also Article 3 (2) (b) of SCAS for a similar provision.

[1] See also Article 55 of the United Nations Charter.

[2] Adopted by the U. N. General Assembly on December 10, 1948. General Assembly Resolution, 217A    

    (iii) of December 1948.

[3] General Assembly Resolution 2200 (xxii) of 16 December 1966.

[4] General Assembly Resolution 39/46 of December 1984.

[5] Adopted at the summit of Heads of State and Government at Nairobi, Kenya in 1981, and came into force on October 21, 1986. Article 4 provides that human beings are inviolable and are entitled to respect for life, and integrity of his person. Article 2 of the Charter prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, sex, language, religion, political orientation or any other belief, national and social origin, wealth, birth or other status

[6] See Ilumoka A. O., “African Women’s Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights-Toward a Relevant Theory and Practice”, in Cook R. J., (Ed.) Human Rights of Women (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), p. 313

[7] General Assembly Resolution 1040 (xi) of 29 January, 1957

[8] See the opening statement of the Convention. Article 15 of the UDHR provides that everyone has the

right to a nationality and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality or denied the right to

change his nationality.

[9] See Article 1 of the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women.

[10] General Assembly Resolution 640 (vii) of 20th December, 1952.

[11] See the opening statement of the Convention.

[12] Article I

[13] Article II

[14] Article III

[15] Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. It entered into force as an international treaty on 3 September 1981 after the twentieth country had ratified it.

[16] See Articles 7, and 8 of CEDAW on the rights to vote in all elections and public referenda, to participate in formulating of government policy and implementing them, to hold public office, to perform all public functions at all levels of government and to represent their countries at the international level.

[17] Article 10, ibid

[18] Article 11, ibid

[19] Article 13, ibid

[20] General Assembly resolution 48/104 of 20 December 1993.

[21] Entered into force in 1951. Some of the other Conventions meant to protect women especially at work include: The Equal Remuneration Convention, Convention Concerning Equal Opportunities and equal treatment for Men and Women with Family Responsibilities and the Maternity Protection Convention.

[22] Adopted in Maputo in July 2003.

[23] Article 2, ibid. Nigeria has also ratified the African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, 2004

[24] Op. cit. note 20.

[25] The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on The Rights of Women in Africa, adopts a similar but wider definition of violence against women. The Protocol defines violence against women as: “all acts perpetrated against women which cause or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological, and economic harm, including the threat to take such acts; or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life in peace time and during situations of armed conflicts or of war”.

[26] Op. cit. note 20.

[27] Amnesty International Press Release Ai Index: Afr 44/012/2005 (Public) News Service No: 144, 31 May 2005.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Op. cit. note 27.

[30] Uzodike E. N. U., “Protection Against Domestic Violence”, in Agbede I. A., and Akanki E. O., (Eds.),  Current Themes in Nigerian Law,(Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, 1997), p. 335. 40 police officers from different divisions in Lagos State who were interviewed by Uzodike regarding their attitude to domestic violence all believed that it was wrong to meddle in domestic matters between husband and wife, even if it involved serious assaults. Even when approached over an incident, their approach would rather be mediatory and not accusatory. Ibid, p. 349.

[31] Augie A. A., “Women’s Rights in Law and Practice: Social Welfare”, in A. O. Obilade (Ed.) Women in Law, (Unilag/ Southern University Baton Rogue, Louisiana 70813, 1993), p. 251.

[32] For a chronicle of such cases, see Women’s Human Rights in Nigeria, January 15, 1966 – May 29, 1999. (BAOBAB for W                omen’s Human Rights, 2003, pp. 19-20.

[33] See The Punch Newspaper, November 7, 2008, p. 2.

[34] Ibid. Available at: http://www.punchng.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art200903124322576. Last visited on 12/3/2009.

[35] World Health Organization, 1995. Adopted by the National Policy and Plan of Action on Elimination of

Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria. Federal Ministry of Health, October, 2002.

[36] Akande J., “Aparteid in Gender”, in Akande J., (Ed.), Miscellany at Law and Gender Relations, (Lagos:

MIJ Professional Publishers Ltd., 1999),  p.159.

[37] Ibid

[38] See statement of Prof. A. B. C. Nwosu in the National Policy and Plan of Action on Elimination of

Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria, (Federal Ministry of Health, October, 2002), p. iii.

[39] National Policy and Plan of Action, ibid.

[40] Akande J., “Women and the Law” in Obilade A. O. (Ed.) Women in Law, op. cit. note 31, p. 9.

[41] Atsenuwa A. V., “Women’s Rights Within the Family Context: Law and Practice”, in Akande J., (Ed.)

Miscellany at Law, op. cit. note 34, p. 120.

[42] See M. Kabir, Z. Iliyasu, I. S. Abubakar and U. I. Umar “medico-social problems of patients with vesico-              vaginal fistula in murtala mohammed specialist hospital, kano” in Annals of African Medicine
Usman Danfodiyo Teaching Hospital Sokoto and Annals of African Medicine Society Vol. 2, Num. 2, 2003, Pp. 54-57.

[43] Akande J. “Women and the Law”, op. cit. note 40, p. 9.

[44] See Toye Olori “UNFPA embarks on a rescue mission” Available at: http://www.newsfromafrica.org/newsfromafrica/articles/art_10217.html. Last visited on 11/3/2009.

[45] See Health Interactive With Dr Aminu Magashi How to Eradicate Fistula Problem In Nigeria. Available at: http://www.gamji.com/magashi/magashi54.htm. Last visited on 11/3/2009.

 

[46] See Toye Olori “UNFPA Embarks on a Rescue Mission” op. cit. note 44.

[47] Impact of Cross Cultural and Inter-Religious Marriages on Widowhood in Nigeria (Human

Development Initiatives and the Department of Sociology, University of Lagos, 2005), p. 10.

[48] Oloko S. B. “A Panoramic View of Widowhood in Nigeria”, in Owasanoye B., and Ahonsi B. (Ed.),

Widowhood in Nigeria, Issues, Problems and Prospects, (Freedrich Ebert Foundation and Human

Development Initiatives, 1997),  P. 8

[49] The Impact of Widowhood on Children of Widows in Lagos, (Lagos: Human Development Initiatives,

2007), p. 2.

[50] Omoiy S., “A Critical Appraisal of the Legal Status of Women under the Nigerian Law” in Kalu A., and

Osibajo (Ed.),Women and Children under the Law, (Lagos: Federal Ministry  of Justice” 1989) P. 73

[51] Holy Quaran Chapter 4:34

[52] Cap. C 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004

[53] Oyajobi A.V., “Better Protection for Women and Children under the Law”, in Kalu A. U., and Osinbajo Y., (Ed.), Women and Children Under the Law, (Lagos: Federal Ministry of Justice), 1989, p. 23.

[54] Ibid, p. 23. Section 1 of the Criminal Code defines “prostitution as including the offering by a female of

her body commonly for acts of lewdness for payment although there is no act or offer of an act of

ordinary sexual connection. This is in contrast with the sex neutral dictionary definition of a “prostitute”.

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (Wehmeier (Ed.), 6th ed.  Oxford University Press, 2001),

defines a “prostitute” as a person who has sex for money.

[55] The cases of Saffiya Tugartudu and Amina Lawal were two prominent cases where the weight of the

Sharia law was brought to bear.

[56] Akande J., “Women and the Law”, op. cit. note 40, P. 17.

[57] Cap. P. 19 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004

[58] See Lagos State Government Notice No. 25, Law No. 10, Lagos State of Nigeria Official Gazette, 20th

March, 2008.

[59] Hodges A., (Ed.), Children’s and Women’s Rights in Nigeria: A Wake up Call (UNICEF 2001), p. 14

[60] See the CEDAW and Accountability to Gender Equality in Nigeria. A Shadow Report (WACOL, 2008),  p. 5

[61] Jsemler V., Walker A., Weiner L., Johnson T., and Katz j. (Eds.) Rights of Women  (New York:

International Women’s Tribune Centre, 1998), p. 31.

[62] Article 26 (1) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 13 (2) (a) International

   Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Article 10 Convention on the Elimination

   of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Article 28 (1) (A) Convention on the Rights of the Child

   (CRC), Article 4 (a) Convention Against Discrimination in Education (CDE), Article 80 (b), 81 (b),

279(a)  UN Fourth World Conference on Women Platform for Action (PFA)  

[63]Article 26 UNDHR; Article 10 (d) CEDAW; Article 13 (2) (c) ICESCR; Article 28 (1) (b) CRC; Article 4

(a) CDE and Article 80 (e) PFA.

[64] Aticle 10 (a) CEDAW,  Article 82 (e), 83 (f), PFA

[65] Aticle 10 (e) CEDAW, Article 82 , 88 (a-c) PFA

[66] See The Shadow Report, op. cit. note 60, p. 4

[67] Jsemler V., Walker A., Weiner L., Johnson T., and Katz j. (Eds.) Rights of Women op. cit. note 61.

[68] Section 50, Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act” 2003.

[69] Policy Paper on Human Trafficking in Nigeria SHS/CCT/2006/PI/H/2, P. 9.

[70] Available at www//allafrica.com/stories/200711220512.html. Last visited on 13/3/2009.

[71] Policy Paper ibid. P.22.

[72] See “Human Trafficking from Nigeria to Europe” A report of International Organization for Migration,

available at: http://www.iom.int/jahia/jsp/index.jsp

[73] Article 4. See also Article 8 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and

Article 3 (1) of the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery the Slave Trade and

   Institutions and Practices similar to Slavery (SCAS)

[74] Article 17 CSTPEP. See also Article 3 (2) (b) of SCAS for a similar provision.

[75] Article 3 (1) SCAS

[76] Article 3 (2) SCAS

[77] Article 1 CSTPEP

[78] Article 1 CSTPEP and UN Fourth World Conference on Women Platform for Action (PFA) Article 130

[79] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Cap. C 23 Laws o f the Federal Republic of

   Nigeria, 2004.

[80] Ibid, section 33.

[81] Ibid, section 34.

[82] Ibid, section 35.

[83] Ibid, section 36.

[84] Ibid, section 37.

[85] Ibid, section 38.

[86] Ibid, section 39.

[87] Ibid, section 40.

[88] Ibid, section 41.

[89] Ibid, section 42.

[90] Ibid, section 43.

[91] Chapter II ibid.

[92] Section 17 (2) (a) ibid.

[93] Section 17 (e) ibid.

[94] Section 18 (1), ibid.

[95] Section 13, ibid.

[96] See section 2 of the Child Rights Act, 2003. See also the Child Rights Laws of the various States.

[97] Section 405(d).

[98] section 225A.

[99] This law was amended in 2005.

[100] Section 1.

[101] Section 4 ibid for the functions of the Agency.

[102] See Ikhimiukor I. Z., “Combating Human Trafficking in Nigeria”, (2009) 1NIJ L. J., p. 160.

[103] Ibid.

[104] This law makes it unlawful to infringe the fundamental rights of widows and widowers.

[105] This law provides for reproductive health services in Rivers State Government owned hospitals.

[106] This law is to set up a Maternal Mortality Monitoring Committee for each Local Government Area in

the State.

[107] Mafa U. M., and Bukar L., Gender Equality: The View Point of Islam, in (2003) 6 U. Maid. L. J., P. 57.

WOTCLEF was established by the wife of the former Vice President, Chief (Mrs.) Titi Abubakar.

[108] Ibid.

[109] They include: the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), Africa Union Solemn Declaration for Gender Equality, African Protocol on Peoples Rights and the Rights of Women (APPRRW) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), International Conference on Population Development Plan of Action (ICPD PoA), NEEDS/SEEDS) Millennium Development Goals etc.

[110] Mrs. Inna Maryam Ciroma, Hon. Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, in Forward to

the National Gender Policy, 2006.

[111] Non-State Actors is a term that incorporates many varied actors; NGO’s, multi-national corporations

(MNCs), private educational Institutions, religious organizations, private companies, the media,

individuals and other social organizations, clubs and societies. See the Shadow Report op. cit. note 60, p.

[112] Shadow Report 2008, op. cit. note 60, p. 70. NGOs visible in this intervention include: WRAPA,

WACOL, CIRRDOC and WARDC.

[113] These initiatives  were carried out by Lift Above Poverty (LAPO) and COWAN

[114] See Shadow Report, ibid.

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