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WHEN THE ANOINTED GOT TOUCHED

By Devaan M. Mom

Timi-Dakolo-and-his-wife-Busola-and-Coza-pastor-1

Busola Dakolo’s decision to call her pastor out could not have been an easy one. She is after all, a successful professional photographer, married to one of Nigeria’s prominent musicians, and the incident occurred many years ago.

Her accusation came a few weeks after her husband, Timi Dakolo’s allegations of sexual misconduct meted to female members of the church by the same pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo.

Biodun Fatoyinbo came to most Nigerians’ consciousness in 2013 when salacious allegations were made about him by a female member of his church who claimed to have been in an extra-marital affair with the founder of the upcoming (at the time) Pentecostal church, the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, COZA.

Dapper, young, charismatic and good-looking, Nigerians were more sympathetic to the pastor whom it was assumed by most had fallen prey to some Delilah determined to bring him to ruin and pull the church down. Indeed, there are those who opine that the scandal served to make both pastor and church even more popular and sought after.

So, it was with a sense of unease and dismay that many read Timi Dakolo’s allegations when they first hit social media in June 2019. Still, many gave Fatoyinbo the benefit of the doubt. That debate was still being whispered around when Busola, Timi’s wife dropped her own bombshell. Apparently, this same pastor had raped her in her parents’ home when she was just 17 years old. One can only imagine that the constant allegations of sexual impropriety levelled against him by a staggering number of women, mostly members of his church, brought back memories which spurred Busola to pitch in her 2 cents to give credibility to the stories.

It seems to have worked.

Suddenly a tsunami engulfed social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, as more people watched the revealing interview on Youtube and drew their conclusions. However, if Pastor Fatoyinbo of COZA had hoped to weather the storm as usual, it seemed Nigerians and particularly women weren’t having it this time around. In less than 48 hours a peaceful protest was organized and held at the church premises in Abuja and Lagos, 2 of Nigeria’s biggest cities.

COZA’s attempt at a pushback, having the Church premises cordoned off by state security agents, hiring random strangers to stage a counter protest, only outraged Christians and served to rouse scorn and deepen suspicion. The hue and cry would not die down this time and the church had to get Pastor Fatoyinbo to step down (even if temporarily) and yet there are still those insisting on litigation.

Described as a serial rapist, many on social media claim he has a history spanning back to his time before he became a pastor and speak of how he left Ilorin, Kwara state in a dust cloud of sexual impropriety including statutory rape, abortions, and getting kicked out of university. They insist his relocation to Abuja was an attempt to remake his image which has since fallen through owing to the constant trail of the same kinds of allegations.

His wife, Modele Fatoyinbo, who handled service the Sunday after the scandal, defended her husband. A bit of an irony really, since several of the women speaking up claim he blames his behavior on her inability to satisfy his sexual desires.

The sexual scandals COZA has found itself engulfed in are not new to the Christian faith. The Catholic church, the biggest Christian institution in the world, is currently in the process of reconciliation and healing after thousands of faithful brought such allegations against priests spanning many decades. The Anglican church had to deal with a split when it took the controversial decision to ordain gay priests, a stand the African arm of the church refused to accommodate. Every now and again, the random randy pastor is named though hardly ever shamed and life goes on.

However, what makes this situation stand out is the instant mass action embarked upon especially by non-COZA members to try to get the situation redressed. It serves as a watershed in the history of the church in Nigeria and indeed the culture of silence and shame which generally attends such occurrences. For one thing, it makes evident the fact that Nigerians are no longer willing to look away when clergymen are accused of sexual impropriety in any form as was the case in times past. Many challenged Christian regulatory bodies such as the Christian Association of Nigerian CAN, and the Pentecostal Federation of Nigeria PFN, to speak up. Both have since condemned the act while calling for investigations and also revealing that COZA is not registered with either of them.

The public uproar, however, has served the purpose of ensuring COZA’s postponement of a planned weeklong church activity tagged, “7 days of Glory”. These are remarkable achievements as far as holding the Church to account goes. It is also an indication that Nigerian women are finally finding voice and losing shame where rape stories are concerned.

There are still several people who disbelieve Busola’s story and wonder why it took her so long to raise the issue, despite the number of women who have chimed in since the story broke. The Pastor still has a strong fan base within and without his church.

Pastor Dave Ogbole wrote, to the ire of many, on his Facebook page, “My loyalty is stronger than correctness. I run to the battle right or wrong, we never leave a comrade alone in battle. It is one for all, all for one. I stand with Biodun Fatoyinbo, I am Bidoun Fatoyinbo”, following which he also promptly got called out for similar conduct by a certain Nguter Uja.

Also, in support of Pastor Fatoyinbo were the following Twitter accounts, with @funshographix tweeting: “It’s pure lies that Jesus was born through holy spirit (sic), God actually raped another man’s wife to birth Jesus Christ, Pastor Biodun was just following God’s steps.” Yet another tweep, @RenoOmokri described Busola’s account of the rape as being totally without merit. Tweeps like @DrJoeAbah, @Omojuwa, @BukkyShonibare, @Adeola, @AuduMaikori however, had a different perspective and kept the debate alive on Twitter.

Shortly after the video was publicized, Pastor Fatoyinbo, wrote a strongly worded rebuttal in which he threatened to take legal action to clear his name. Many on social media do hope the matter goes to court to reach a resolution on the matter. Twitter account @AyodejiOsowobi appeared to be soliciting for complaints of a similar nature perhaps in hopes of carrying out a class action or having other victims willing to testify should the matter go to court. As at the time of writing this article, her request had generated almost 10,000 likes and been retweeted by over 12,000 tweeps.

Should this action actually follow through, and an investigation is carried out, regardless of what is ultimately uncovered regarding Pastor Fatoyinbo’s guilt or otherwise, it would have served to send a very strong message to sexual predators that the days of shameful silence are over.

 

Devaan Mom is a journalist, development worker and politician. She writes from Abuja.

 

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Divorce Your Wife, Lose Your Home to Her

by Kyenpya Katkuk Esq

In the light of the recent event celebrating women on International Women’s day all over the world on the 8th of March as recognised by the United Nations, women are not only celebrated on how far they have come in the society, in politics and in the economy but it’s also a time for reflecting on the sexism that affects women, a time to raise awareness of continued inequality as well as the achievements of combating inequality.

 

There is no place in the world where women have the same opportunities as men and in so many countries the rights of women and their opportunities are limited by law. The belief that patriarchy is so entrenched in the Nigerian system and the fact that women are unable to exercise their rights have been an erroneous one especially by those ignorant on the rights provided under the law.

 

However, this issue of a woman not having rights to property due to cultural beliefs has been disproved of recent and it has been an uplifting moment in the lives of women in Oyo State, Nigeria.  In the recent decided case, by the presiding Justice Munta Abimbola , the courts held that “ a husband who marries a wife and builds a house during the pend-ency of the marriage stands the risk of losing the house if he later divorces the woman who had children for him unless such woman of her own volition, leaves the matrimonial home”. The presiding Justice whilst ruling on the matter also emphasised on what is known as “palm tree justice”, which indicates that “it doesn’t matter in whose name the property stands or who pays what (on the property) and in what proportion as determination of such matters transcends all rights, legal or even equitable but simply what is fair and just ‘’ in the circumstances of the case.

The basis of this judgement was made under the provisions of the Married Woman’s Property Act 1882.  Furthermore, Section 17 Married Women’s Law of  Oyo State, Cap 83 and Laws of Oyo State 2000 gives a court the discretion as it thinks fit on the issues of title of possession to property. Section 18 Married Women Law of Oyo State also allows the court to treat property as joint property especially where it has to do with a matrimonial home.

 

Conclusively, it could be said that there is significant progress on the application of legal provisions and precedents regarding property rights that affect women inspite of the system of marriage laws (customary, Islamic and statutory marriage). The parties in the decided matter happen to be married under customary law and so this could mean that a woman is entitled to having an equal share of property in the event of divorce, regardless of whether she is married under customary law or statutory law.

 

This is also a good reflection of international instrument , the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), particularly Article 5 ,which refers to how women should not be confined to culturally defined constructions. It recognises that all human beings are equal and have equal rights and deserve equal respect for their human dignity.  Gender stereotypes should not deny women the right to be treated respectfully as an equal. Therefore, this landmark ruling is a significant in combating inequality as it affects women.

 

Kyenpya Katkuk is a lawyer with the Coalition Of Lawyers for Human Rights  (COLaHR).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A ONE DAY SENSITIZATION WITH KABUSA MARKET WOMEN ASSOCIATION ON GENDER BASED VIOLENCE (GBV)

Dated 12Th June 2018.

The problem of gender-based violence (GBV) is an age-long problem in our communities which has led to loss of lives, emotional disorder, psychological torture and other forms of human rights abuses.  These violations happen more in rural areas than the urban areas due to poor access to information, inadequate exposure and anti-human rights cultural practices, leading to an anti-social environment for women and children. Market women who ordinarily carry the burden for over 70% of the Nigerian families and are the economic main- stay of most homes suffer the most. It shows in several ways and not necessarily violent – owing to Market women often non awareness of this, it gradually ebb their sense of dignity and consequent inability to raise citizens who fully appreciate their beings in our homes.

Lawyers Alert as a human rights Organization has identified the gap which has put the lives of many women at the risk of suffering violations and other human rights abuses, and is now engaging market women associations across the country to sensitize them on Gender based violence.

The first of this training held with the kabusa market women – Abuja sorboses. The training which started at about 2:30 PM with over fourty women in attendance was held at the market square and it started with an opening prayer by a delegate of the Market Women Leader, after which a welcome address was taken by the Market Women Leader herself. All the participants briefly introduced themselves. Mr. Yemi Agoro took time to introduce Lawyers Alert as an Organization to the women and also talked about the Objectives of the meeting. Ellen Onugha who is our legal officer took time to talk about legal literacy and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR). Mr Yemi Agoro and Elvis Torkuma took few minutes to summarize everything in local English in other for the women to understand it better. After the session on legal literacy and Sexual reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), we gave room for comments and questions. The women were excited with our services and many threw questions which we were able to respond to with the rights answers.

One woman stood up and said, she would take it upon herself to educate those who were not present at the meeting. Another woman said initially she thought it was money we came to share to them but what she learnt from us is much more than money. After the feedback session, emphases were made on Lawyers Alert’s pro bono services, mediation, where and how they can access our free legal services and what to do when their rights are violated. This topic was even more exciting and overwhelming to them because even before we could finish this session, we had over six women reporting violations to us at the spot. It was a successful program because from their comments, questions, recommendations and openness to discuss their problems with us at the training ground, we could see that we exceeded their expectations.

 

In conclusion, we recommend more of this sensitization program for market women in other locations because many women do not know their rights and they do not know that these rights can be protected and enhanced. This will lead to more enlightened women in the society and reduction or total eradication of gender-based violence in Nigeria.

 

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Women and the Benue Killings

By Jerome Mary Uneje

The sound of the whistle pierces through the quiet dark night in the neighbourhood of Ityo Gbenda, a suburb of Anyiin, the headquarters of Logo Local Government Area of Benue State. Everybody is alarmed and tense. A few brave men dare the consequences and rush in the direction of the sound, machetes and spears in hand. The loud sound of the whistle at this time of the night could mean a warning or worse still, an attack within seconds; the few brave men have raced to the home of Pa Agbidye or what remains of it.

To their surprise, it is Orlaade, his rascal drunk of a son, who has had an overdose of ogogoro and is playing pranks. They are livid. How could one be so irresponsible as to alarm the community this way when they were barely returning home since January when the marauding herdsmen attacked the community in the dead of night killing scores and burning homes including the Orlaade’s father’s? One by one they leave, hissing only after abusing the fellow who is neither concerned nor remorseful.

Such has been the fate of the People of Logo, Guma and some other parts of Benue since the January attacks by the killer herdsmen. Though some level of peace is gradually returning, fear and an uneasy calm hang thickly in the air. The January attacks have taken a toll on the State on a multi-sector level ranging from the Government to individual persons.

At the State level, the attacks and killings have caused a lot of economic hardship and sprain on finances. For example, over 5 Internally Displaced Persons Camps have been set up by Government to cater for over 45,000 persons displaced in both Guma and Logo local governments. Through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the Government has channelled a lot of financial resources into purchasing relief materials and other necessities for Displaced Persons across the 5 camps. These monies were never budgeted for neither had plans been made in advance for their expenditure. What this implies is that, monies meant for other projects like Health Care, Agriculture and other core areas of social life may have been channelled into addressing this unexpected and unfortunate situation. This will no doubt affect the finances and economic position of the State.

Furthermore, the killings have led to a sharp decline in the aggregate food production in the state. Benue is known as the food basket of the Nation due to the high level of agricultural production the citizens engage in. With over 75% of its Citizens engaged full time in the Agro Industry, the State derives most of its Internally Generated Revenue from farms produce. Guma and Logo are particularly known for their high-level food production especially rice and yam. With both local governments currently displaced, their quota of food production and potential revenues could be lost never to be recovered. This has the potential of leading to famine, malnutrition, loss of income and other domino effects that could be inimical in the long term to general food security in the country.

At the community level, local Citizens no longer sleep with their eyes closed. Daily, the peoples of both Guma and Logo live in perpetual fear for their lives and property. Though operation “Cat Race” has been established by the Nigerian Army, fear still permeates the atmosphere. This state of perpetual fear creates an environment of insecurity, uneasy calm and tension leading to a potentially disastrous situation especially when fed by the ever-spinning rumour mill.

Though a degree of Peace has returned, the trauma of the death of loved ones and destruction of properties still affects the people. Burned houses, granaries, orchards and farmlands are physical reminders of the assault the people suffered on New Year morning of 2018. These sad reminders only make a bad situation worse. Other properties destroyed included shops and business centres. Certainly, feelings of bitterness would be assuaged if perpetrators were at least caught and punished for the irreparable losses especially human lives.

It is a global fact that in any violent conflict, women are usually the worst hit. This attack is no exception. Going by the report of the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, of the over 45,000 people in the 5 camps, approximately 65% or 29, 250 are women.

A major challenge being faced by these women is the loss of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services especially for Pregnant Women. Most of them have lost follow up on Antenatal/ PMTCT services. This loss of follow-up on basic Sexual and Reproductive Health Services posses a significant danger for both mothers and unborn children. Other such services these women have lost access to include Family Planning and HIV and AIDS. The displacement has led them to an inability to continue follow up on their medication and cocktails. As a result, some of them are already taking ill and in danger of imminent death.

The dearth of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in these camps also affects young girls and women who are sexually active.  The camps provide little or no form of Sexual and Reproductive Health services to this group yet they face a situation where most of them are exposed to sexual demands from males longing to take advantage of their predicament. Already vulnerable, many succumb to these demands even without protection at the risk of unintended pregnancies and or infections. Were adequate Sexual and Reproductive Health Services provided in these camps, or these women and girls not displaced from their homes, the above situation might not arise.

Another effect of the displacement on the Benue woman is the loss of livelihood. Over 75% of women in Benue are farmers or petty traders living in rural areas. With this displacement, the women in both Guma and Logo have fled their homes leaving their means of livelihood.

With the increased pressure on their declining finances, some of these women are resorting to unbecoming methods and means of survival even sex for money in spite of the inherent dangers. Worse still is the fact that they will have little or nothing to fall back on when they return home from these camps.

Yet another effect of this displacement on the Benue Woman is the sharp increase in violations on women’s rights especially Gender Based Violence including battery, rape, assault, intimidation etc. Most of the displaced women within and/or outside these camps have faced one form of violence or the other. Though no specific statistics exist to confirm the number of displaced women violated, our survey has shown that many of the displaced women have experienced one form of violation or the other since the attacks occurred. Gender Based Violence is therefore another effect of the displacement on the Benue woman.

Full scale hostilities have subsided. Peace has since returned to the displaced communities. Pockets of violent attacks are reported here and there but the effects are still there. In order to ameliorate the effects of this conflict on the State and its Citizens, the following is recommended:

  • The Federal Government and the International Development Agencies should increase their aid to the State in providing assistance to the displaced people and in rebuilding homes and properties destroyed by the marauding herdsmen.
  • Deliberate efforts should be made by both the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in tandem with the State Institutions to assist farmers with improved seeds, seedlings and other farming inputs with a view towards boosting aggregate farm produce in Benue State to stave off famine and food shortage.
  • The operation Cat Race and other Security Operatives should intensify their patrols and surveillance in the war torn grassroot communities to establish their presence. This will reduce the level of anxiety and sleeplessness in the communities.
  • On the mass destruction of properties in the affected communities, we strongly recommend the compensation of the affected people of their losses in monetary terms,
  • We also recommend that Sexual and Reproductive Health services be provided in camps and in the conflict zones including the provision of Ante-natal/PMTCT to pregnant Mothers.
  • Lastly, we recommend the monitoring and documentation of the violations of Rights of the displaced women with a view towards investigating the violations and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

As they leave, the leader of the security contingent takes a last, piteous look at Orlaade. He ponders how such a childish act could have rattled an entire community, a situation which would never have arisen prior. He sighs. Such has been the effect of the killings in Anyiin and indeed the entire Benue State.

Jerome Mary Uneje is with Lawyers Alert

 

 

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Nigeria Elections: Taraba State Falls Short To Elect 1st Female Governor, Aisha Al-Hassan.

By @MorganWinsorIBT  April 14 2015

Aisha Al-Hassan
Sen. Aisha Al-Hassan (center), the All Progressives Congress candidate of Nigeria’s Taraba state, attends a gathering in the local government area of Ussa on Jan. 21, 2015. News Agency of Nigeria

Many Nigerians thought voters in Taraba state would make history by electing the nation’s first female governor. But Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan, known as “Mama Taraba” by her supporters, lost to her main challenger, Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Premium Times in Nigeria said Tuesday.

As the April 11 election neared, Al-Hassan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged as a leading candidate in the race for the Taraba governorship, making it one of the most contested polls in Nigeria this year. Al-Hassan, an attorney, defected from the PDP and joined the opposition party after she was elected senator for the Taraba North constituency in 2011. She was the Taraba state attorney general and commissioner of justice as well as the chief registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

Al-Hassan, a Muslim, pooled a large number of votes from the Gasol local government area as vote counting entered its second day in Taraba, allowing her to surpass the PDP’s candidate, Nigerian newspaper Osun Defender reported.  The lead triggered early celebrations nationwide by those who expected Al-Hassan to become the first female state executive. But as the final results from all 16 local government areas in the eastern state trickled in, Ishaku regained the lead by nearly 64,000 votes and hopes of making history sunk, the Premium Times said.

Nigeria’s election commission is still finalizing the collation of results in Taraba, but is expected to announce the PDP’s victory in the predominately Christian state. President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, a southern Christian seeking re-election, also won the most votes in the eastern state against the APC’s candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim. But Buhari defeated Jonathan nationally by a couple million votes, ending the PDP’s 16-year rule.

culled from International Bussiness Times

 
 

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IDP CAMPS: CIRCLE OF RAPE & CHILD TRAFFICKING

Fact emerging from an investigative report conducted by Daily Trust 13 February 2015; with support of Ford Foundation reveals an inhumane, illegal, and exploitative trend of rape and child trafficking in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, especially in North East Nigeria; mostly ravaged by the 5-year Boko Haram insurgency. And what’s more heart-rending is the fact that the evil is being perpetrated by some mindless individuals in consort with camp officials; under the very nose of regulatory agencies feigning ignorance.

According to the report, child trafficking is a thriving well run racket in most of the camps where hundreds of boys and girls have been traded off to interested people at N10, 000 – 100,000 depending on the negotiation done by the middlemen. Now, unregistered IDPs are most vulnerable to the acts because their stay and security in the camp cannot be guaranteed. Thus, most of them would jump at the slightest opportunity to get the bare basic necessities of life which could be bait and ploy to get them trafficked. Usually, they are given out as domestic helpers; unmindful of the fact that they are in fact being sold as a chattel. And many of the girls get forcefully ravished and raped in the process by their supposed care-givers; even by male camp officials. Faced with such helplessness and hopelessness, the victims embrace silence for fear of painful reprisal; knowing that the prosecutors are the perpetrators.

However, it is crucial at this juncture to ask: where are the regulatory agencies saddled with the responsibility of catering to the IDPs and fighting child trafficking? What are they doing to combat this ugly face of primitive and barbaric practices? Sadly, from what we gleaned from the report, the agencies are dozing on their official duties. For example, the National Commission of Refugees, the agency empowered by the law to be in charge of displaced persons was found visibly absent in the IDPs camps visited in Borno and Gombe states. Also, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons & Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) gives a crippled excuse of being “unaware” of the inhumanity and illegality going on in the camps. Even the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Police and Governments of affected states all throw their hands up in ignorance of the criminality perpetrated under their umbrella. Nothing can be farther from gross dereliction of duties.

In sum, the dehumanizing circle of child trafficking and rape burning in IDPs camps is a direct fall-out of the insurgency in North-Eastern Nigeria; exploited by mean individuals, aided by camp officials; and encouraged by the gross abdication of duties by regulatory agencies. The way out is for the axe of sanction to fall on guilty persons and agencies. More so, there’s a pressing need for proper documentation and registration of displaced persons in order to aid care-giving measures. Yes, these persons may be displaced, but they are still Nigerians and humans and thus deserve a dignifying life.

………Elvis-Wura Towolawi 

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in Women Rights and Gender

 

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Imo State ‘Abortion’ Law: Twists and Turns.

– Elvis –Wura Towolawi

Literally, peace and tranquility has eluded the Executive and Legislative arms of Government in Imo State for passing into Law the Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Bill which was sponsored by Mrs. Stella Ihuoma, the Majority Leader and Member representing Ahiazu Mbaise State Constituency in the State House of Assembly. The Church (especially the Catholic Church), being the people-power-base has been pitched against the State Government for making such an ‘obnoxious and immoral’ law which to them is an explicit endorsement of murder infanticide; and in turn would encourage promiscuity among the people. Predictably, Governor Rochas Okorocha cowered to ‘holy threats’ and apologized in a politic fashion to the people feigning ignorance of the purport of the Law, and further appealed to the law makers not only to amend the law but to delete the ‘controversial section’ completely from the Law. (See: Daily Trust News, Wednesday September 4, 2013). On the other side of the scale, the Legislature has alleged in defense of the Law that the House was misunderstood and misconstrued by the people, as the intent of the Law was to “address all forms of violence against women”. However, what is of import to one is: the status of abortion when juxtaposed against women’s reproductive rights and well-being; and more so, the desirability to season moral agitation and speculation with reason for balance, equity and equality in this variegated world of ours.
Fundamentally, section 40 (G) (i) of the Violence against persons (prohibition) Law, Imo State of Nigeria stands at the root of the brouhaha. It provides,
Every woman shall have the right to enjoy reproductive rights including the right to ‘medical abortion’ in case of sexual assault, rape, incest or where the continued pregnancy endangers the life or the physical, mental, psychological or emotional health of the mother.
Clearly, from a plain reading of the above provision, it shows that ‘medical abortion’ is permissible for women as a furtherance of their reproductive rights on several grounds: ‘sexual assault’, rape’ incest’ and ‘health – related basis’. That is, women by the Law are conferred with the right to have an abortion where the pregnancy resulted from acts of ‘sexual assaults, rape, incest’ or where the ‘continued pregnancy’ imperils the life and well-being or health of the woman or mother. The long and short of the provision is that it affirms women’s rights to exercise reproductive decisions; and that includes in certain cases – abortion.
The question of abortion is a thorny subject in view of the fact that it is an admixture of morality autonomy and individual liberty and freedom; and this explains why those who take only the moral or religious stance, view and attitude never address and appraise it fairly and reasonably. (See: Abortion, Ignorance, Hypocrisy & Religion/nigeriaworld.com/). Abortion, being the termination of foetus before it grows into a full-fledged baby or person has drawn a lot of venom, vituperations and vexation, both of religious, moral and social colouration. Prolife proponents have argued that the life of a human being starts at conception; it is sacrosanct and sacred because from the beginning it involves the creative force of God and remains forever (See: Fr.Nnabuihe Iwuala/www.lifesitenews.com/). And since man cannot play God and create life, it is tantamount to murderous criminality to cut short a budding flower of life for whatever reason. To them, it amounts to an infringement of the right to life of the growing baby, and worst when perpetuated by the mother, the carrier of the life. But pro-choice advocates have placed the woman in the burning triangle – her right to decide what happens to her body. Are foetuses to be more prized than the well-being of women? Are foetuses really entitled to the right to life against their mothers?
When the decision in Roe v. Wade was handed down, women’s rights activists and hard-line feminists celebrated the supposed triumph of feminine independence. Now, Roe v. Wade is a United States Supreme Court decision that invalidated any state law that prohibited ‘first trimester’ abortion on grounds that it violated the guarantee of personal liberty and the right to privacy implicitly guaranteed in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. Though it came with some fanatical acts ending in deaths, and protests by anti-abortionists, thousands of American women who once sought ‘black market’ abortions’ used to die before Roe, and now such number of women don’t die. (See: Carole Joffe, Roe v. Wade and Beyond: Forty Years of Legal Abortion in the United States/www.dissentmagazine.org/).
More so, pro-choice adherents believe that a woman should be entitled to exercise reproductive rights: to decide what happens to her body – whether to have a child or not. By restricting women from exercising such rights, they are invariably deprived of personal liberty, privacy and freedom; besides, unwanted and unplanned pregnancies and children impend the chances of women bettering their lots in life. Many women have suffered unprintable trauma, shame and odium from rape, incest and sexual assault leading to pregnancies. Without an abortion, they will be scared and ruined for life; trapped in the pit of bastard-parenthood with unspeakable impact on the socio-psychological growth and maturation of the off-springs. Should a woman keep a pregnancy when her life is at stake? Shouldn’t at least ‘medical abortion’ be allowed to save the woman and take a lesser evil? The thrust of the pro-choice argument is dimensioned on women exercising and enjoying their reproductive rights in a safe, legal and free atmosphere; not as slaves – baby factories!
Are foetuses “persons” deserving protection against the scalpel swiped at them to further the interest and rights of the mother? Are foetuses entitled to the right to life at the stage of their development? These are nagging queries upon which the whole abortion law controversy turns on. Well, to the pro-choice mouthpiece, foetuses are “mere appendages”; works – in – progress.
Foetuses are taken not to have acquired the distinctive traits of human personality in spite of their striking resemblance to man, say like other primates. That is, until they are delivered, full, bouncing and crying, they are not entitled to the right to life which can be asserted against the mother. In line with this position, Mary Ann Warren, a Philosopher and Core pro-choice advocate argues thus:
A woman’s right to protect her health, happiness, freedom, and even her life by terminating an unwanted pregnancy will always override whatever right to life may be appropriate to ascribe to a foetus…
So much for the heat generated by both sides of the divide. And Truth being a double-edged sword should be wielded with care lest fanaticism seeps in, blind reason and plunge us into an abyss of unreason, primitive dogmas and beliefs. The route to Truth is like a circle, one does not get there walking on a straight well-trodden path.
It is a universal truth that every being and thing is contained in a seed; a tree a forest; a foetus – human race. So whence does the irrational idea that a foetus is no human until it leaves the mother’s womb and thus can be killed at will to satisfy the ever-evolving taste and desire of women? Yes, there are still births and miscarriages, but a woman shouldn’t be allowed to exercise any indiscriminate reproductive rights pertaining to abortion; well, except on health grounds. Foetuses have the right to grow into full-fledged persons capable of enjoying and exercising inalienable rights – hence, the women’s right over her body should be tempered to accommodate another’s right to life inexorably intertwined with hers. Perhaps, the use of safe contraceptive is a better way to control “unwanted pregnancies”. And any Law that gives women unlimited right to procure an abortion at her caprice is genocidal. But let it be punctuated here that pregnancies had by rape, incest and sexual assault are damaging to the women and children. Thus, concession would be given on those gender-based grounds to allow an abortion in order to save the face and future of violated women. Consequently, the violence against Persons (Prohibition) Law of Imo State of Nigeria is a good piece of legislation aimed at alleviating the burden of abused women folk in Imo State.
The people should add to the lens of religion, reason and human rights (women’s rights). Maybe, it would become clearer why the Law should stay, unamended until tested in the furnace of experience. I say no more…

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Human Rights, Women Rights and Gender

 

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