Senate dumps gender equality bill

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senate-in-plenarySenate, yesterday, dumped a bill seeking to incorporate and enforce certain provisions of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in the protocol of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

The bill was read for the first time in the Red Chamber on Tuesday, October 20, 2015.

In her lead debate, sponsor of the bill, Senator Biodun Olujimi, said the bill was seeking women’s freedom to move, as against the current practice where they are restricted by law in some parts of the country.

She also stated in her argument that women were grossly underrepresented in many state Houses of Assembly.

She further argued that some harmful traditional practices be done away with. These include female genital mutilation, forced feeding of women, early marriage, various taboos or practices which prevent women from controlling fertility, nutritional taboos and traditional birth practices, son preference and its implications for the status of the girl-child, female infanticide, early pregnancy and dowry price. Her argument that women should be given equal rights in marriage, divorce and property/land ownership and inheritance, elicited negative reactions from male lawmakers who said the new law, if passed, will allow multiple sex partners for women.

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, who is the Senate deputy minority leader, spearheaded the defeat of the bill.

Bwacha begged his colleagues not to support a bill that will give the freedom to women to have multiple sex partners and set families against each other.

The lawmaker insisted that Nigeria was not ripe to join other nations in granting certain rights and privileges to women, adding that Nigeria was a country of strong family morals and should therefore jettison the bill.

Before Senator Bwacha’s argument, some lawmakers had spoken in favour of the bill. Those who spoke in favour of the bill were the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Binta Marsi Garba, Ali Ndume, Bala Ibn Na’allah and Ibrahim Gobir.

But those who spoke against the bill, relied on the sentiments of Senator Bwacha. They told their colleagues not to support a bill that will give a legal backing to promiscuity. Those who openly opposed the bill were Senators Sani Yerima and Adamu Aliero.

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, tried to save the bill but was not lucky as his colleagues voted against it. (Daily Sun)

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