Some days back, we celebrated the human rights day. I wrote an article to call our attention to this and to enlighten us on our rights (see My Voice Counts). The essence is to let us know our rights, protect and defend them, most especially the women in the society. Surprising therefore, on the 10th of December, 2012, the rights of some female students in a secondary school in Ogun state was violated by their principal. It was disappointing though, that the accused violator of their rights is not just a learned or an elderly person, but female.
Before I go on to bare my opinion on the matter, I would like to give the report as I read in a couple of online sources. According to the stories, Mrs. Olufunke Olatundun Aladeojebi, the principal of Ajuwon High School, conducted a virginity test on 10 female students of the school whom she presumed to have had sex in the school. It was gathered that she brought in a nurse to carry out the test. They inserted their fingers into the vagina of these students. It caused an alarm when one of the students began to bleed after the test as a result of deep penetration. Parents stormed the school to protest as this test was conducted without the consent or even prior notice to the parents.
The Ogun State Government, through its Ministry of Education has suspended the principal and investigation is on-going. According to the Honourable Commissioner for Education in the State, Honourable Odubela, the government is concerned about protecting the fundamental rights of the students. A five man committee-comprising of officials from the Ministry of Education and the State Teaching Service Commission- has been set up to investigate the situation. They are expected to report back to the government in 14 days. Also, officials of the Ministry of Health in the State, doubts the mental wellbeing of the principal and thus, may subject her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
To me, this act is simply barbaric, dehumanising and totally disrespectful. It is a total violation of the their rights to freedom of torture and degrading treatment as well as their right to privacy as stated in the Universal Declaration of human rights. Amnesty International has regarded virginity testing as a form of gender based violence. The psychological effect on the girls must also be put into cognisance as it is a major part of their memory for life. For some of them, they may need appropriate counselling sessions. Medically speaking, the girls may need to undergo some medical tests as it is almost unsure what infection could have been transmitted in the process of dipping hands into the girls as we were not told of the level of hygiene in which this gruesome act was done.
I am of the opinion that the Government should ensure that the Principal as well as the nurse be severely punished for this crime against humanity. Rather than focus on carrying out virginity tests, the schools should concern themselves with moral decadence among the youths. These girls, if at all they did have sex, it wasn’t on their own but definitely with some other boys. There are more subtle ways to handle such situations rather than subject the individuals to a traumatic and dangerous experience.
Let us put an end to such violence against women and girls in the society. I would like to know what your thoughts are on this.