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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Nigeria's Senate Throws Out Proposed Gender Equality Bill For Religious Reasons

A rare co-operation between christians and muslims in the Nigerian senate has resulted in a proposed "Gender Parity and Prohibition of Violence Against Women" bill being rejected by the upper chamber of Nigeria's bicameral legislature. The bill sought to address the appalling manner in which Nigerian women are treated.

The bill was of course rejected mainly on religious grounds, with the muslim senators (who are in the majority) saying that it went against the constitutionally recognized sharia law. This was actually the opinion of Nigeria's peadophile senator, Ahmed Sani Yerima, a former governor of Zamfara state, one of Nigeria's most educationally backward and economically deprived states. He was the first governor to implement sharia law in his state before he was emulated by some other northern Nigerian governors. He is also facing corruption charges. A fellow muslim senator from Borno state, Boko Haram's 'home' state, Ali Ndume, who just a few days ago recommended that Nigerian men should marry more wives, and for which he received the fury and vitriol of Nigerian women, was also one of those instrumental to shooting down the bill. There was also opposition by some christian senators who quoted verses from the bible in support of their sick stance.

Nigerian women are at the receiving end of numerous atrocities. They are usually blamed and even scorned when they report cases of rape to the police; and in some communities, a woman who has just lost her husband may be forced prove her 'innocence' in her husband's "untimely death" by either sleeping all night in the same room with her husband's corpse, or drinking some of the water used in washing corpse before the final burial rites. There is of course the more familiar discrimination in education and inheritance, and it is an established fact the children in a marriage 'belong' to the man. These children are usually kept by the husband's family in the event of his death regardless of the family's ability to cater for them. Wives whose husbands die intestate are almost always stripped of everything they own by the man's family. 

This situation has seen marginal improvement in recent years because women are more aware of their legal rights since many of them now get married usually after acquiring tertiary education, as opposed to just after completing primary or secondary education. This slight change is, unfortunately, painfully limited to the southern part of the country since the mainly muslim north is still neck deep in islamic ordure.

Nigeria's senate president, who has a pending corruption case in court, has promised that the bill will be "reintroduced", noting that Nigeria was operating a democracy. This was the same senate that passed the bill criminalizing homosexual relationships/marriage, and those who "support it", in record time in May 2013, prescribing a 14 year jail term for anyone convicted. The law was then said to be "in line with the people's cultural and religious inclination". This time, they have thrown out a bill seeking to secure the rights and improve the quality of life of women in the Nigerian state. These same senators are witnesses to Nigeria's comatose energy sector, prostrate economy, and astronomical unemployment rate, dire situations they have done absolutely nothing to remedy. Most of Nigeria's 109 senators have either been slammed with corruption charges in the past, or have cases currently in court. They have also refused to look into the corruption that is choking the life out of a once promising country. They are instead only interested in stifling the rights of homosexuals and women.

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