Harmful Practices Affecting the Girl Child In Africa That You Probably Know About

Girl Child

Culture is important to us at Sarauta. We uphold our cultural values and do all we can to promote our beautiful cultures. However, we know that culture can be tainted with some form of ignorance and this in turn can cause negative ripple effects in society. It is important to acquaint ourselves with some cultural practices in Africa that do not necessarily favour the girl child. We hope that you resolve to speak and act against these inhumane practices whenever you can.

Trokosi system

This is a traditional system that is practiced in Western Africa. In this system, virgin girls are sent into Trokosi Shrines, some as young as six years old. They are sent to make amends for the sins of the virgin girl’s family. Usually, such girls stay there for life and when they die, the family must replace them with another virgin girl. It has also been found that such girls are usually sexually exploited by the priests of such shrines. They become slaves to these priests, both sexually and physically. If any girl gets pregnant and delivers, the baby is taken to her family to nurture.

Respectfully, (or not) nothing about this practice makes sense. It just seems like another crafty way to frustrate the female gender on the African continent. I remember watching a documentary about a girl who was rescued from this evil system and it was so sad. This system steals the lives of young girls and renders them useless to society, vulnerable and at the mercy of their captors. This system is a gross violation of human rights and it should not be condoned.

Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation is one act that is still commonly practiced in Africa despite the several sensitization programs and horrible effects on women. FGM in most parts of Africa started as a way to control the sexual freedom of women. It is believed that genital cutting will curb any attempts to live a promiscuous life. Decades since the inception of this act, I wonder why African societies haven’t realised that promiscuity cannot be stopped by external factors. It’s mostly a personal choice to not live a promiscuous life. I have read so many memoirs and watched so many documentaries on victims of FGM and I can say that this act has no advantage to it. It is a curse and should not be encouraged.

girl child

Child marriage

I am a major proponent of marriage and love. Love is absolutely beautiful. I also don’t necessarily believe age should be a factor that determines love. However, I do believe that a person must have attained a significant level of growth and be able to determine if they want to commit to marriage. Unfortunately, in most parts of Africa, it is culturally and religiously acceptable to marry off children. Such marriages are mostly forced and end up ruining the lives of such young girls.

Girls are inadvertently raped in marriage, become pregnant, and are subjected to horrible childbearing conditions. Child trafficking and modern slavery: A child is a child. Children should not be forced to grow up so quickly. Children are commonly seen in Africa bearing responsibilities that only adults should take on. A common example is the hiring of children as nannies to look after children just like themselves. Let children enjoy their childhood. Another common way of child trafficking can be found in the common case of selling babies.

Male child supremacy mindset

This mindset has been a cancer in society. It has produced misogynistic and entitled men. It sees women as genetically inferior to men. Fathers have disowned their babies at birth because of this mindset. A Nigerian man recently smashed his newborn baby girl on the floor because he expected a baby boy from the hospital and felt no remorse because of this mindset. All children are blessings from God and it is wrong to believe that a certain gender is better than another. Many people will not out rightly own up to having this mindset, however if you pay close attention to people around you, you will see that it is more prevalent than ever in Africa.

It is important to honour and respect the traditions and practices of the people in the society. Nevertheless, I believe that no practice or tradition of one person should infringe on the basic human rights of another person. It is wrong, especially for the girl child.

We must be bold enough to speak out against these harmful practices and breaches of human rights and dignity. We must protect the girl child.

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