“A Better Future” by Ifeanyi Okeke

2015 Child Rights Essay Competition: 2rd Place, Group 1 (Grades 5-8)

Ifeanyi Okeke – Nkpor, Nigeria / Winners International School

Ifeanyi OkekeSadly from the womb to the grave, female children fall victim to violence. In some countries and cultures before birth, tests are made to determine whether a fetus is male or female. Females are often aborted. When they finally make it to the world, they are offered stressful circumstance that they battle all their lives. They are denied education, common respect, forced into early marriage, raped, ignored, publicly disgraced, cohabited, forced into remarriage in event of her partner’s death to someone she would never have loved to. The lists are listless. Sometimes I ask to know whether they are still part of the world of ours. With the effect that children may suffer isolation, inability to work, loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities and limited ability to care for themselves and their children. But why? This essay seeks to answer this question and more like its causes, effect on children and preventive steps to be adopted as a recommendation to stop this ill-treatment.

There are many reasons given by people especially the men for abusing and acting violently against girls. Some said they are second class citizens whose only job is to procreate and serve the children and the men as long as they live. Men are better used in everything than their female counterparts. They see them as people who should not be given right. They are mere creature that should never ever gain the same acceptance with men. While men do this as long as they live and produce their own children, the male children grow to learn this from their parents. It has never been shun nor given a due attention. While some suffer, female children are also affected, and as they grow and develop, they still practice these as in the case of males and for the females, they lick their wounds knowing that their own mother had been a modern slave in the very hands of their father.

Female children are at the receiving end of violence in the home. Because they are still developing, they are always disturbed and ask questions about what the future holds for them. They may also get symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, for example have nightmares and flashbacks, and be easily startled. Boys learn from their fathers to be violent to girls and girls learn from their mothers that violence is to be expected, and something you just have to put up with. They often grow up feeling anxious and depressed, and find it difficult to get on with other people.

There is hope for these ones today. They still have a voice and future for themselves. The assumption that all practices that harm girls, no matter how deeply they are embedded in culture, must be eradicated and that must start from home. Cultural ideologies – both in industrialized and developing countries – provide ‘legitimacy’ for violence against them in certain circumstances. Government must speak with one voice on these treaties that obliged them not only to protect children from crimes of violence, but also to investigate violations when they occur and to bring the perpetrators to justice. School teachers should detail out children rights to the hearing of their male counterparts and assign them visible roles that will place them in a position to claim their rights and to protect their fellow girls. In local areas, children should be empowered. Without economic independence, children have no power to escape from an abusive relationship.

With the above suggestion, girls will soon breathe fresh air of liberty now that this issue is being revisited. My opinion and that of many others will count. When they are thoroughly respected, our ailing society will be transformed. Well in our own little way, we can contribute at least by talking to the government. They have ears. We can do something more than talking. It calls for personal dedication to the course and choice of making the earth a theatre of happiness and hope for our generation and those coming behind. It comes out of you and me and how we live our lives. We make the world a better place not by advocating some new public enterprise but through our devotion and love and patience and kindness to the people around us. We make the world a better place one minute and one person at a time. Without kindness in our lives, our world can quickly turn cold, empty and negative. Kindness gives us hope, it connects us to each other and it reminds us of the beauty that lives in each of us. I believe that here in Nigeria, we can help give girls voice as we do to boys. We will translate this human right to the best interest of all. We should show them respect. They deserve it. They are product of Devine making. We may start from home to encourage this, we may start from school. Start anywhere, everywhere. We can make something out of it. There is hope.