An Experience of Overprotection of Female Children in African Homes

An Experience of Over-protection of Female Children in African Homes

It feels good to write again. As at mid-July, I had planned to write about how to prepare Masa, Soy milk beverage, how to preserve tomato puree without freezing, and how I met some special guy- my boyfriend. Before the month wrapped up, I was only able to send the tomato storage procedure as mail to subscribers as part of my special collections to them for taking some seconds of their precious time to subscribe to this channel.

After writing that mail a month ago, the luteal phase of my menstrual cycle crept in with all its accompanying irritability, lassitude, and moodiness. So, I gave myself a break for one week. However, as things would turn out, on Sunday, the beginning of the following week, life hit me as an individual in a relationship and my plans for the last week of July got messed up with a wave of depression and the frustration of being a girl child in an African home.

Narrating the story as brief as possible, here is what happened.

My boyfriend’s mom had an accident on Sunday, I had to visit on Monday because Adeola needed me to assist with certain supplies for her treatment, at the end of our running around on Monday, I became so tired that I had to opt for the option of sleeping over in Lagos instead of travelling back to Ogun State. So, I called my uncle’s wife to inform that I wouldn’t be making it back home that evening.

Upon returning home on Tuesday, life moved on as usual with no queries until my uncle returned on Wednesday and my teenage cousin decided to appreciate God for my safe return home from Lagos during our night devotion. My cousin’s prayer made uncle question my movement. Since he was aware that I left home on Monday, how come his son said, “thank God for the safe return of Dami back home today, Wednesday.” So, my uncle asked, “where did you go and when did you return home?”

After series of scolding from him and a long disappointment essay from my parents about how my dignity didn’t matter to me as well as how I had the guts to embarrass her at my uncle’s place, I spent the rest of Wednesday night crying and wondering why I was born as a female into an African home. They would not have chastised a male child as badly as they had done to me. In fact, there would not have been a talk of losing one’s ‘dignity’ to him. Anyway, I am really grateful for the comfort of boyfriend, sister and friends that patted my shoulders and gave me napkin to wipe my tears on this day.

I spent the rest of last week getting in and out of a fight with my mom about how she didn’t know my boyfriend until the incidence, apologizing to her, dad and uncle about how I behaved badly and disappointed them by spending one night out.

All that happened last week heightened my concern about the subject of overprotection of females. On Thursday, while trying to console me over the incident, my uncle’s wife made a statement that still echos in my head.

She said, “know this Dami, as a female, you are forever going to be under someone’s protection. You are under protection in your father’s house and when you get married, your supposed husband is also going to badly protect you.”

Coming from an objective perspective, except from extreme cases of selfish and power-ridden patriarchs, it is understandable that the want to be protective by most parents, spouses and other elders comes from a place of genuine love and from the societal predominance of insecurity as well as violence against women. In the Nigerian society, there are kidnappers, rapist and all kinds of bad people lurking around.

However, in the society, both men and women have been victims of kidnapping. Also, more victims have been sexually assaulted by a known person rather than a stranger. Women have been sexually assaulted by partners, relatives, neighbours and other known persons who were supposed to be for them and not against them. This calls for an address of the reason behind the classic case of overprotection of female children in African homes particularly by the male parents.

Why do African parents feel more comfortable to lock the girls behind the gates rather than trust them and allow them to explore their locality? Why is it okay for the boy to go out with his pals while the girl has to bring her friends home to play indoors?

In a speech by Jordan B Peterson, author of 12 rules of life, the writer shared a fascinating truth about parents when he said, “you are a danger to your children no matter what. You can let them go into the world and be hurt, or you can overprotect them and hurt them that way. So, you can either let your children take risks, be competent and courageous or you can make them safe. But, you also can’t make them safe because life isn’t safe.”

Jordan’s speech right there about risk taking and letting children go into the world ought not to apply only to one group of children. Every child deserves to be allowed to make decisions about where they go. As a parent, more attention should be paid on giving girls the right values and skills to navigate life rather than just locking them in. Help a girl understand how to spot dangers in public places and how to help herself, teach her how to defend herself in a moment of assault and how to fight for her right.

Lastly, if you are so particular about knowing the every move of a child, teach them accountability. In most cases, parents do not even ask boys to account for their outing. I remember as friend visiting me in Kwara all the way from Abuja sometime ago. When I asked him if his parents knew he was in Kwara, he smirked and asked me if I always told my parents everywhere I went.

However, if accountability is what is needed to give the girl more freedom, that’s okay. There is really not a problem with being accountable with movements. It is in fact an important feature that ought to be in every close relationship. That is why I called home to inform that would not be returning home the other night. Accountability helps to keep everyone informed and able to help in some ways perchance something goes wrong. It will even help everyone recollect events and improve the overall quality of a relationship.

What is your opinion about the over-protection of girl-child by African parents? Is it appropriate that parents are ceaselessly protective of female children and is this reality an enabler of development as well as economic growth? Kindly share your opinions in the comment section.

3 comments

  1. This is thought provoking for someone like me. Firstly, I think the words of Jordan deserves to be highlighted boldly in red. At times it is difficult for someone like me to relate with how children, especially the female folks are not free to express themselves and face life on their own accounts. I grew up in a diametric trend (maybe because I am a male child, tho I doubt that). I guess most African parents don’t learn and they need re-orientation. They need to know the kind of values they still instill in girl child in 21st century is out of touch with current realities. They protect their children from the place of ‘love’ but they breed them as weakling and second fiddle; thereby enabling patriarchy. Our value system and custom of overprotecting girl child is warped. WE NEED CHANGE!!!

    • Thank you for your comment, Adeola.

      I really hope that Africans will get a re-orientation about how to treat women around. It’s stiffling when women are hindered from doing so much for their communities.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Damy, albeit tiring to recurrently demand – at home, at your workplace, on the internet, in relationships – that you’re afforded a basic right of choice. I have just had a 2-hr conversation with my dad about church choice and he says I’m not independent until I’m indeed independent, aka married. And I’m not even materially dependent on these people for zilch.

    I’m worn out; I can’t even say more.

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