The Girl Child Is A Victim Of Terrorism

Wed, 4 Dec 2013 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

Molefi Kete Asante, one of the world’s respected and finest minds, has this to say after reading our essay “The Plight Of The Girl Child”: “No religion is static; they must be living, dynamic to be meaningful. What we thought at one time may not be what we think today. The idea is not to practice behaviors that are rooted in the misunderstanding of science and or biology.”

He concludes: “There are still people in South Africa who believe having sex with a virgin will cure a man of HIV/AIDS. Since we know this is not true there has to be growth, change, transformation. Perhaps Maulana Karenga’s idea of seeking to discover the core ethical values in religions rather than customary practices might be the best route to keeping the best ideas of our philosophical thought.” These statements represent profound indictment of religions, their deficits, and a call to action by way of modernizing customary practices subject to the positive benefits of science. We, therefore, need to find a creative balance between science and religion.

We also do think Karenga’s creative approach is truly one of the best methodological techniques we could use to effect the changes Asante passionately talks about. In fact, his and Ama Mazama’s edited volume “The Encyclopedia Of African Religion” details the complexity, moral power, doctrinal tolerance, and cultural richness of African Religion. On the other hand, Maulana Karenga’s “Odu Ifa: Ethical Teaching Of The Yoruba” spells out his methodological approach to using ethics, not customary practices, as the best criterion of critique for evaluating the moral strength of African Religion.

Clearly, comparative religion shows us no religion exists without deficits. There is nothing like cultural perfection in any religion on the planet. Moreover, the moral advantage of this approach, Karenga’s, helps us avoid the obvious temptation of glossing over the ethical power of African Religion. Namely, the negativity of customary practices should not be seen as replacing the ethical foundation upon which African Religion was raised. This is important as we come together as a people to fight injustices in society. In that regard, we should religiously bear Karenga’s and Asante’s wisdom in mind. African Religion should be part of the solution.

Now, following the customary issues we raised in connection with “The Plight Of The Girl Child,” could the spiritual logic behind “trokosi” have arisen from the physiologic mechanics of testosterone, patriarchy, economics, or sexism? Or could it have originated from a section of the priesthood speaking falsely on behalf of caring, good, and sincere gods? What has the God of African Religion got to say about it? Are “Witch Camps” and “trokosi” ethnic, moral, spiritual, human rights, or national problems? Obviously, they are human rights, moral, spiritual, and national issues. Certainly, they are not ethnic!

Granted, how may we legislate against or criminalize “trokosi” under our newly proposed definition of “terrorism”? Using the definitional framework of the African Union, for instance, we may define the relative “youthfulness” and “virginity” of the girl child as “property.” In this sense, the girl child’s deflowering, that’s, of taking her relative “youthfulness” away by force, then becomes the very act of “terrorism.” Furthermore, the resulting psychological, physiological, emotional, and anatomic traumatizing of the girl child subsumes the old definitional framework arising from her physical abuse.

This is bound to be controversial, we admit. But what are the alternatives to moral nonchalance on the part of leadership or political inaction? There is a good reason for our controversial proposition. It’s our desire to push the threshold of social responsibility to another level—a higher level of social and moral proaction. Admittedly, how do we successfully circumvent the academic overlap between our theoretical formulations and existing rape laws? Indeed this question resolves into another question—the social and political relevance of existing laws on “statutory rape” to our discourse. This is how we see it: We may want to elevate our statutory laws on rape—as far as violating the girl child is concerned—to the legal rung of “terrorism.”

That’s, our standing statutes on “terrorizing” the body—the person—of the girl child should assume a new layer of serious political morality and of constitutional muscularity in the body politic. In other words, we are forcing society to reconsider the weight of crimes committed against the girl child in the context of the heinous crimes committed by organizations such as Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab! In our opinion, this is not a legal stretch by any standard. Meanwhile, what do we think about the recent proposed amendment to Nigeria’s Constitution, brought to the senate floor by Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima, endorsing the marriage of underage girls and infants by men, a political provocation that drew the social ire of actress Stella Damasus? Didn’t Senator Yarima himself pay a dowry of $100,000 for an underage Egyptian girl?

Why should we sit idle while Senator Yarima invokes the exemplar of Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to a girl as moral justification for his own marriage to an underage girl? What do men want which they cannot possibly get from adult women? We need to rally around the likes of Stella Damasus and Efua Dorkenoo to fight discrimination against girls and pedophiles in our midst. We should not allow men, like Senator Yarima, to hide under the self-serving umbrella of Sharia and the physiological authority of testosterone to terrorize little girls. That said, is rape a violent or sexual act? What is the conviction rate for rapists in our societies?

Again, how can Nigeria’s Kebbi State make the marriageable age for girls merely 11 years? What do we do about modernized diet which makes our girls grow so fast? As illustration, Ramiel Nagel’s book “Healing Our Children” vividly describes the advantages of traditional dishes over modernized diet, pointing out how modernized diet negatively affects childbirth, for instance. Yet we have become so inured to the trinketry of modernism, of Westernism, that we have, somehow, completely lost sight of the deleterious realities of Western civilization. What do we feed our girls on—modernized food or traditional diet? Do we take it upon ourselves to monitor what they eat outside the home?

How do we feel that, in Liberia, for instance, girls as young as 12 are forced to prostitute themselves for a dollar a day, according to the Liberian Nobel laureate, Leymah Gbowee? Is propensity for criminality—like rape or armed robbery—genetic, psychological, physiologic, or cultural? Then again, is criminality the outcome of interaction among culture, psychology, physiologic, and genetics? Again, how do we feel that, according to Sunitha Krishnana, an Indian human rights activist, men raped a little Indian girl to a point where her intestine was forced outside her body, an unfortunate incident which took 32 stitches to put her intestine back into her body?

What heinous crimes have these little girls done to humanity to merit such egregious brutalities from men? Why are the goddesses, Indian and African, silent while their men, gods, manhandle little girls? On the contrary, we are also aware that women pedophiles do in fact exist in all societies, but what are we doing to stamp out pedophilia, whether human or spiritual, in society? Rather than leave children, boys and girls, under the frigid dictates of grinding poverty, at the mercy of demand and supply, in the heat of neo-liberalism and venture capitalism, why don’t we, instead, give them dignity, respect, universal quality education, protection from physical and emotional abuse, freedom of psychological and biological growth, and love?

Aren’t women as intellectually great and competent, as socially important and useful as men in society? A world-renowned economist, Ngozi Okonja-Iweala, an ex-Finance Minister of Nigeria, reminds us: “Placing more resources in the hands of women results in greater spending on human capital goods: Household services, health, education, and food.” Leymah Gbowee, on the other hands, says: “We go into rural villages and all we do is to create space for these girls. When these girls sit, you unlock intelligence, you unlock passion, you unlock commitment, you unlock focus, and you unlock leadership.”

As a people, as a society, as a nation with conscience, what are we doing to raise responsible women to participate fully in national development? Are men and women complementary in any sense at all? In other words, is the female the natural equal of the male in matters of national development and intellection? Given the fundamental differences in developmental psychology and biology between the sexes, could man and woman ever work cooperatively outside the political limitations of biology, in the social context of driving the vehicle of national development?

Are we going to invoke the alleged indiscretions of Victoria Hamah, Eve, Jezebel, Winnie Mandela, Simone Gbagbo, and Delilah to undermine our humanistic project of including women in the equation of national development? After all, wasn’t Victoria Hamah merely dreaming of success while our corrupt psychoanalytic men, Alfred Woyome and several others, literally interpreted her dream, looting the national coffers, right, front, back, that’s? How many females have been directly involved in the scandalized chains of corruption: The so-called Drill Ship Sale, GYEEDA, ISOFOTON, SUBAH, GRA, SADA, etc? In fact, how many women were implicated in electoral malpractices, a case which brought the NPP and NDC before the Supreme Court?

Furthermore, are the hemispheric functionalities of the brain of the woman any different from those of the man’s? Can the man naturally bear a child? What does carrying a baby for nine months tell us about the greatness of womanhood? Besides, if they, man and woman, are indeed equal, what are we doing to address the moral and political questions raised by Kevin Bales, author of “Disposable People: New Slavery In The Global Economy” and “Slavery: A Global Investigation,” questions related to using school-going children in our local industries? Don’t we love these children? Don’t we see ourselves in them? Why are we destroying them, their future?

What are we doing to make their future better? What does Daddy Lumba’s “Children of the future” say about our moral and social responsibility to these innocent children? Have we asked our girls to read Sertima’s “Black Women In Antiquity,” Bernstein’s “For Their Triumphs And For Their Tears,” Warren’s “Black Women Scientists In The United States”? Have we asked mothers to read Dorkenoo’s “Cutting The Rose: The Practice & Its Prevention,” Dirie’s “Desert Flower” and “Letter To my Mother,” and Angelou’s “Letter To My Mother”?

Finally, let’s leave you with this line: “Little children on the street, they all should be in school. Still others in fields working day and night. While others walk around, it’s terrible sight. Is there any hope for them? Is there any hope for us? (Max Romeo, “Poor Man’s Life”). Let’s begin to answer these questions as a society with motherly conscience. We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis