Girl-child and rights: Part One…… is a ‘girl-child’ different from any ordinary child?


By Dr Michelina Andreucci

THERE can be few things in life more confusing than growing up!
Yet in Zimbabwe today, there are those who are prepared to add to this maelstrom by readily advocating and promoting the more venomous aspects of Western contemporary culture.
The risk is that our education system is being mired in a toxic broth of foreign making; devoid of the relevant ‘Africanness’ and hunhu/ubuntu, except as empty NGO-sponsored rhetoric paraphrased throughout the new Zimbabwean curriculum.
Is it not absolute absurdity that our education system should dogmatically and inflexibly follow an alien colonial educational system not of our own making?
Colonisation has already radically affected all aspects of Zimbabwean life and culture; by not fully embracing our own customs, culture, civil norms, child rearing and educational traditions that take into account hunhu/ubuntu there will continue to be a serious educational void regarding the promotion and development of culturally-specific and relevant education to raise competent Zimbabwean citizens.
As a child of emigrant parents, growing up in a foreign land was confusing enough for me; just imagine, the language and way we spoke, the food we ate, the clothes, attitudes, beliefs, discipline; everything was different.
There was a sense of schizophrenia growing up, moving between life at school and life at home; somehow I always felt I did not ‘fit in’.
My sense of yesterday’s schizophrenia is undoubtedly what is shared by thousands of young Zimbabweans, as evidenced by many Zimbabwean youths today.
I, however, have no regrets in growing up being conscious of my roots.
I never felt my ‘human rights’ were denied me.
I understood and accepted my parents were merely conducting themselves the way they knew best – according to the customs and culture they identified with.
No NGO ‘salesmen’ were lobbying human rights about as they do now; my parents did their best and I accepted and respected them.
Today we have all heard or read of human rights, the rights of the child, children’s rights, the rights of the girl-child, child abuse, child labour, corporal punishment, discrimination against women and gender discrimination, together with various other rights and wrongs; all Western constructs of white supremacist ideas spread on a black vulnerable land.
The result is cultural confusion and the dismantling of our own cultural spider web.
Yet Africa has many unique cultural qualities that the rest of the world can learn from.
Even the term ‘girl-child’ is questionable.
What is a girl-child?
Has it a different sex from an ordinary girl?
For millennia the human race was made up of men and women, girls, boys; babies, children and adults, as God the Creator intended, suddenly, out of the blue, the ‘girl-child’ emerged from the NGOs bag of tricks to dominate the human race.
Few of us will argue that the genetic distribution of ‘XX’ and ‘XY’ chromosomes determines the sex of a child.
Could this new gender be the result of artificial insemination?
Is the hypothalamus gland, which determines the sex of the unborn child, somehow altered during the artificial insemination to produce a girl-child?
Or could it be as a result of lesbians’ activities?
How do we clean these pernicious colonial spider webs spun in all corners of the African continent that are disempowering African parents and the African male in particular?
What is next?
Who is the West to brow-beat, preach and moralise to us and other Third-World countries?
Is Africa still being looked down upon as the ‘Dark Continent’ inhabited by savage barbarians just waiting for Western salvation?
Are they guilt-free (these Westerners), or are there skeletons lurking in their cupboards?
Let us examine some of these ‘rights’ then ask ourselves as Zimbabweans if these ‘rights’ are not part of our cultural ethos of hunhu/ubuntu as practised by our ancestors during our purported dark, savage past?
Are they not still part of our traditional cultural norms, or are we indeed still the ‘savages’ of yesteryear in need of their Euro-western enlightenment and edification!
Excerpts from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 2, 6, 24, 27, 28, 32, and 34 state:
“States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree … to take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, … customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women.
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures … to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.
States Parties shall … eliminate discrimination against women … in the field of education…; … health care, …etc.”
Further passages from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention Against Discrimination in Education, and the ILO Minimum Age Convention (No. 38) read as follows:
“States Parties shall respect and ensure … rights … to each child … without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
States Parties shall ensure … the survival and development of the child.
States Parties recognise the right of the child to the … highest attainable standard of health…; shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to … health care services.
States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”
According to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Articles 2, 5, 10 and 12:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for … health and well-being.
Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.
All children … shall enjoy the same social protection.
Everyone has the right to education.”
And in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 25 and 26:
“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.
Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.”
Articles 3 and 4 of the Convention Against Discrimination in Education state:
“Each member… undertakes to pursue a national policy … to ensure the effective abolition of child labour and to raise progressively the minimum age for admission to employment or work to a level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young persons.
The minimum age … shall not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling and, in any case, shall not be less than 15 years…. The minimum age for admission to any type of employment or work which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to jeopardise the health, safety or morals of young persons shall not be less than 18 years.”
Zimbabwe, as with every nation, has the responsibility for incorporating these ‘guiding provisions’ into its policies.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights is mandated to monitor the implementation of these provisions which by the basic act of joining the United Nations, Zimbabwe signalled its acceptance of the Charter together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Dr Michelina Rudo Andreucci is a Zimbabwean-Italian researcher, industrial design consultant lecturer and specialist hospitality onterior decorator. She is a published author in her field.
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