HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE AND VIOLATIONS IN NIGERIA: WOMEN AND CHILDREN

INTRODUCTION, CONCEPT AND DEFINITION:

Human Rights are vast expanding alongside the society. Human rights are those underlying ethical principles or standards that describe what is normal human behaviour and other acts a human being is not to be subjected to.
This rights are normally protected under natural and legal rights in countries around the world as well as at the international level.

Most of the fundamental ideas that gave rise to the universal fight for human rights started after the destruction witnessed during the second world war, including the holocaust.
This catastrophic events saw man’s brutal inhumanity against man. The evil unveiled and unmasked as a result of the second world war led to the development of what will be later known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was declared and adopted in Paris, France, in 1948.

It goes without saying though that the rightful forerunner and movement for actualisation of human rights started during the Enlightenment period with the likes of philosophers like John Locke,     
Francis Hutcheson and 
Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui. Their human rights philosophies manifested heavily in political speeches related to the American and French Revolution.

Therefore, the enlightenment period laid a solid foundation which modern rights took up and advanced further in the 20th century after the second world war.
The war itself may have been the final nail on the coffin possibly because slavery, genocide, torture, war crimes and other prevalent societal vices were an all time high.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols (on the complaints procedure and on the death penalty) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its Optional Protocol, form the “International Bill of Human Rights”.
This same rights are now enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria, and you enjoy it whether or not you know.

What these means is that these rights are inalienable fundamental rights which a person is inherently entitled to simply because the person is a human being.
Therefore, an individual is entitled to these human rights regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN NATURAL RIGHTS, LEGAL RIGHTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS:

Natural rights are rights which are granted to all people by nature that cannot be denied, impeded or restricted by any government or individual.

Legal rights are rights granted through the sovereignty of a state government by virtue of a legal grant of that right or legal systems such as the rights imparted on Nigerian citizens by the 1999  Constitution as amended.

Human rights on the other hand arise simply by virtue of being a human being. 

Natural rights, being natural, do not change over time. All men, at all times, have the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Human rights, on the other hand, constantly change. For example, Labour Laws, customer service relations, Consumer Laws, etc!

HUMAN RIGHTS, WHAT ARE THEY?

As stated earlier, they are the basic rights and freedoms that every human being should enjoy.

1)The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights came into existence in 1976. The human rights that the Covenant is established to promote and protect include:-

-The right to work in just and favourable conditions.

-The right to social protection, to an adequate standard of living and to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental well-being;

-The right to education and the enjoyment of benefits of cultural freedom and scientific progress.

2) Civil and Political Rights:

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its First Optional Protocol became enforceable in 1976. The Second Optional Protocol was adopted in 1989.

The Covenant deals with rights like freedom of movement; equality before the law; the right to a fair trial and presumption of innocence; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of opinion and expression; peaceful assembly; freedom of association; participation in public affairs and elections; and protection of minority rights. It prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life; torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment; slavery and forced labour; arbitrary arrest or detention; arbitrary interference with privacy; war propaganda; discrimination; and advocacy of racial or religious hatred.
Because of the universal nature of this rights, empathy, rule of law and obligation are imposed on persons to respect the human rights of others. It is generally considered that civil and political rights should never be denied except due process is followed.

ABUSE AND VIOLATIONS – WOMEN

Even though the constitution spells out equality under the law and ensures the protection of fundamental human rights, traditional laws place women as subordinate to men in most Nigerian communities and societies.

Some cultures still practice the ancient belief that it is waste of resources to send a girl child to school, encouraging parents to give them out for marriage at a tender age, while other customs still insist on female genital mutilation, which exposes the child to various health hazards.

This abuses can stem from the conduct of security agencies, interactions with close circles, families, colleagues, friends and superior officers to freedom of expression and association, lack of social equality, abusive relationship s.
This abuses and violations may manifest itself in violence against women, subjugation and ill unwarranted treatments that leave a lot of women and children scarred for life.

Violence against women is a problematic human rights violation that cuts across all ages, religion, and background of women and girls. It can happen anywhere: at work, school, church, on the street, or at home. Perpetrators can come from loved ones including husbands, guardians, friends and family members. Strangers are not left out in this violation.

In some Nigerian tribal cultures, the woman must initially go into seclusion. They are also forced to neglect their bodies; they are not allowed to shave, shower, or change their clothing. They have to rub cow dung and palm oil on their bodies and must also sleep on the floor. Widows are also expected to wear black, the alleged colour of mourning, for years to properly show their loss and respect for their late husband.
In most places, especially in our various vilages, women are not allowed to own land. Culture and traditions supposedly prohibits it.

What about a widow? Apart from mourning, the widow has immediate concerns involving living situations and property transactions. In most cases, the eldest son and not the widow inherits the entire property.
In some places, women are culturally viewed as property and can be inherited like the rest of the husband’s estate. Whether or not the widow can continue to reside on the property is dependent on her relationship with her eldest son or, if there are no sons, the eldest male relative of her husband. There have also been instances where the woman must return to her premarital home after refunding the bride price. The lack of sufficient property right makes these women dependent on men while single, married, or widowed.

 On March 16, 2016, the Nigerian senate rejected a bill sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi, seeking to empower women politically and economically as well as grant them equal opportunities with men in diverse human endeavors. It is shocking to see a bill that seeks to tackle domestic violence and underage marriage thrown out. As the nation’s self-imposed political parliamentarians continue to wash their hands of this problem, Nigerian women continue to bear the cross.

The ongoing Boko Haram conflict in the northeast, cycles of communal violence between pastoralists and farmers, and separatist protests in the south has defined Nigeria’s human rights landscape since 2017.
More than an approximated 2.1 million people have been displaced by the conflict in the North, while 7 million others  need humanitarian assistance.
There are currently heavy reports of human right abuse of minors, children and women at the various IDP camps by the very people who are supposed to protect them from this violations. The abuse is rife that such abuse related news are now a mainstay in the national news.

Sometime ago, there was a report about suspected prostitutes being arrested in Abuja. Then, the reports also included another ugly report; some of the operatives were abusing their uniform. Others, just because they can and that nothing will happen. They use nylon as condoms to perpetuate their ungodly act, and they don’t care the trauma they are causing this people. Despite being sex workers, they are still humans and deserve the best treatment.

•ABUSE AND VIOLATIONS – CHILDREN

Children under our Laws are persons below the age of 18yrs according to the Child’s Rights Act.
Children, especially children of poor parents suffer a lot of abuse emotionally, physically and psychologically. Some of the ways children are being abused:
– Forced child marriages.
– Child labour
– Child Abuse resulting from maltreatment at places where this children are sent to as maids and servants.

Abuse in all its forms are a daily reality for many Nigerian children and only a fraction ever receive help. Six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence – one in four girls and 10 per cent of boys have been victims of sexual violence (unconfirmed). Of the children who reported violence, fewer than five out of a 100 received any form of support. The drivers of violence against children (VAC) are rooted in social norms, including the use of violence as a form of discipline, violence against women and community beliefs about witchcraft, all of which increase children’s vulnerability.

REMEDY AND RECOURSE:

Regardless of the opportunity provided to take up these violations to courts in Nigeria, individuals do not often utilize this option and as such, there continues to be many violations occurring. To address this pitfall,

– It is important to create sensitisation and awareness programmes that will encourage women to report cases of abuse to authorities.

– Police officers should receive civic education and training on issues of domestic violence and its effects on victims. This will prepare them to handle such cases better.

– Create laws and enforce existing laws that protect women from discrimination and violence, including rape, beatings, verbal abuse, mutilation, torture, “honor” killings and trafficking.

– Educate community members on their responsibilities under international and national human rights laws.

– Promote the peaceful resolution of disputes by including the perspectives of women and girls.

– Strengthen women’s ability to earn money and support their households by providing skills training for women.

– Sensitize the public to the disadvantages of early and forced child marriages.

– Highlight the value of girl education and of women’s participation in economic development.

– Encourage women to participate in the political process and educate the public about the value of women’s votes.

– Raise public awareness of the poor conditions some women face, particularly in rural areas.

– Parents should also be made aware of Child Rights Act and it’s provisions.

SOME HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCIES AND ORGANISATIONS IN NIGERIA:

1) Access to Justice
2) Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network
3) Brekete Family
4) Devatop Centre for Africa Development
5) National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons
6) Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation
7) Youths For Human Rights Protection And Transparency Initiative
8) National Human Rights Commission (Nigeria)
9) Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund
10) Safe Child Africa
11) Legal Aid

Sources and References:
1) Wikipedia.org
2)https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dailysignal.com/2011/12/19/are-human-rights-the-same-as-natural-rights/amp/
3)https://www.unicef.org/nigeria/child-protection

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