Calls are being made for the Nigerian Government to bring the age of consent in the country in line with other civilized countries.
With the country’s current age of consent at 11 years, many are saying that at this rate it “will make Nigeria a playground for paedophiles”.
People are saying that the government there has a responsibility to protect minors from harm with children up to the age of 16 rendered not yet physically or mentally mature enough to consent to sexual relationships.
With young people there under the age of 18 still registered as minors, and as such need to be protected from sexual exploitation and abuse, there are also calls for there to have a limit on the age gap – Presently, it is illegal for someone aged over 21 to have sex with someone under 16.
UNICEF, the world’s leading organisation working for children in danger, defines gender equality as “a state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision making, and the state of valuing different behaviours, aspirations, and needs regardless of gender.”
Many in Nigeria are saying that; “If you are too young to fight for your country then you are too young for the age of consent”.
The age at which you can voluntarily join the military is 18 years, the same as for voting, so, the question is asked; “Why would you have such a large disparity between the ages?”
“How would an 11 year old girl be able to look after a baby or a boy for that matter?”
A petition has been started to highlight that the Nigerian Government be made to see how they will be viewed globally should they continue with the age of consent at 11 years.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 23 of the 2003 Nigerian Child Right’s Act says; “A person under the age of 18 is incapable of contracting a valid marriage. If such a marriage does take place, it should be declared null and void and of no effect.”
Section 29 (4b) of the Act states that; “Any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.”
Gender equality is something Nigerians say needs to be worked towards – especially where there are institutionalized systems which many feel, aims to keep women subservient to men.