Why Senate Must Not Pass Bill To Empower Women, Ban Quran, Bible, Others – Group
The Owerri branch of the Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (ACMPN), has advocated to for the non-passage of the bill for an act to incorporate and enforce certain provisions of the united nations convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, the protocol to the African charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in Africa,
The group in a press statement emailed to Abusidiqu said the bill sponsored by Senator Biodun Christine Olujimi will put a ban to the use of the Quran and Bible as well Traditional Kingship for Men.
The group said the bill amongst others also seek to ban Catholic Male Only Priesthood, install Women as Emirs, Ezes, closes all-male schools and seminaries, closes all-female schools and convents.
The press statement reads
WHY NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MUST NOT PASS THIS BILL
This Bill is a domestication of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It is worthy to note here that CEDAW was rejected by the United States Senate of the U.S. Congress. The present Bill 2016, is no different than the earlier versions, it still Bans the Holy Bible and Holy Qur’an, Bans Traditional Kingship for Men, Bans Catholic Male Only Priesthood, installs Women as Emirs, Ezes, closes all-male schools and seminaries, closes all-female schools and convents. The Bill closes Islamic Madras because of the teachings of ‘stereotype’ behavior of women and men in Islam like clothing. All what is progressive about Gender Equality exist in our Constitution Section 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution. The defect in the Bill is that it does not explicitly take cognizance of the established good practices of the religions and culture of the Nigerian people. It must be stated in every section of the Bill that promotes non-discrimination that “there is exempt of established good practices that respect the religions and culture of the Nigerian people”. This would mean that if the Catholic Church refuses to ordain a woman as priest, it would not be regarded as discrimination against women on the basis of gender. So also if the King makers of Sokoto refuse to crown a woman as Sultan of Sokoto they would not be cited to be in violation of the law. As it is now the Bill makes teachings of the Holy Bible and Holy Koran Qur’an violations if it propagates that there are separate roles for men and women in society. The Bill promotes ‘sameness’ of the sexes, while the Holy Bible and Holy Qur’an promote gender complimentarity.
ACMPN Rebuttal Section 1 on Purpose of the Bill:
The purpose of the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill is to give effect to: The foreign agenda towards elimination of all forms of discrimination that will facilitate destruction of all persons from girl child to woman, boy child to man, and total destruction of the Nigerian society using our own laws. Fundamental Human Rights under the 1999 Constitution on Gender is not ‘Gender Sameness’ but encourages ‘Gender Complimentarity’. The 1999 Constitution recognizes the roles of men and women and their inalienable rights. The Ban of the Holy Bible and Holy Qur’an from schools promoted by this bill under the deception of ‘elimination of stereotypes in curricula’ is not women’s rights but an attack against the Freedom of Religion enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
ACMPN Rebuttal to Section 2(a)(b)(c), (3v) (4a) Prohibition of Discrimination: in a way that it abolishes Christian and Sharia religious laws
The Bill automatically abolishes Christian and Sharia religious laws. There are no exemptions based on religion, customs and traditions. This means that the Sultan of Sokoto could be a woman if by age, academic standard and family lineage is the one due to be in the position. The law mandates that the Sokoto Sultanate crown a woman the Sultan of Sokoto and head of all Muslims in Nigeria! Catholic and Anglican churches must ordain women as priests! So we can see that, the Catholic or Anglican Primates in Nigeria could be women regardless of the Universal Church apostolic traditions. All-women convents would now be shared by males, while all-male seminaries will now be shared with females. This would mean the destruction of religion in Nigeria. This will change our customary and religious traditions we have maintained for millennia. This is not the equal opportunity Nigerian women want in Nigeria. It would rather precipitate social discord and unrest due to the destruction of the age-old traditions that have maintained peace. The foreign sponsors of this Bill seek the destruction of Nigeria. Section 2(a-c), 3(v), 4(a) is null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal to Section 4(b) mandates quotas rather than competences and qualifications thereby creating structural institutional discrimination it purports to prevent.
Quotas of 35% or more for women is not as a result of qualification or competences but a structural institutionalization of discrimination of persons who happen to be men qualified but not taken because of quotas mandated by this Bill. In effect, the Bill established structural injustices it purports to eradicate. The 35% is not equal to 50%! Rather the Bill should state that in the case a woman is qualified for a political office such opportunity should be granted on the basis of competences. The Bill can be useful if it enthrones the principle of MERITOCRACY rather than QUOTAS. The present wording is wrong and Section 4(b) is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal to Section 5 (i)(ii)(iii): Modification of Socio-Cultural Practices
Section 5 proposes elimination of gender stereotypes. In Islam, God states the equality of humans in Qur’an (16:97) “To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of actions”. Just as in Christianity, Islam recognizes equality of men and women, but also underscores that this Equality is not Sameness. For example, the Bible in 1 Timothy 2:12 “but I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. To teach this would be considered illegal under this Bill. The presence of such ‘stereotypes’ in the Holy Bible and Holy Qur’an is not acceptable by this Gender Equal Opportunity Bill. This ban on stereotypes without exemptions of religious teachings automatically bans the use of the Holy Bible and Holy Qur’an in schools by mandating that there should be ‘elimination of gender stereotyping in education’. This means that no books that say women have separate roles in a family than men could be used in schools. Section 5 outlaws the Sharia and Customary courts. Section 5(i) promotes female Catholic priesthood, female Ezeship, Emirship, Sultanship by mandating “the promotion of equality of all sexes in all circumstances and for all purposes, including choice of career”, no exemptions were made for religion and customs of the Nigerian people. Sections 5 (i)(ii)(iii) are null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal to Section 5 (vii): Double Inheritance for Women but not Men
Section 5(vii)(11a)(13) proposes a woman having equal share in inheritance as a man in their parents property and also proposes share in her husband’s property, this would mean that a woman has ‘double share’ from both parents and husband to the disadvantage of the man. The rationale of the present traditional system is to allow inheritance in the husband’s place to encourage sustenance of the marriage rather than divorce because of earnings from inheritance from her parents. Therefore Bill violates the important principle of equality that it purports to promote, hence the Bill Section 5 (vii) 11(a), (13) is null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal to Section 7(b): Eliminates all Religious Schools
Section 7(b) by mandating the “The elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other types of education which will help to achieve this aim;” it automatically outlaws religious schools which are all-male or all-female. This means in Nigeria, there would not be male-only seminaries or schools and female-only convents or schools. This will destroy the Christian, Islamic and traditional African religions in Nigeria. Section 7(b) is null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal to Section 8: Elimination of discrimination in employment
Section 8 mandates to “eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment, occupation or profession” there is no exemption clause for religion and traditions. Priesthood, Sultanship, Ezeship are all professional roles which the law mandates women could choose under this law, since there are no exemptions for religion or tradition. This would mean the destruction of our present Christian and Islamic religious traditions.
The Bill Legalizes abortion as a means to protect health of women!
Section 8(g) mandates the right of everyone to the protection of the person’s health… and choices in reproduction and maternal or parental responsibilities”. This means that a woman choosing abortion as a means for protection of her health is allowed under
The Bill would lead to Corporate Bankruptcy!
Section 8(g). Furthermore, Section 8(g) is impractical and very expensive for corporations since it mandates that no “entity shall limit or restrict or otherwise strictly regulate the period or conditions, an employee undertaking maternity leave”. A woman could take two years of paid maternity leave if she claims her had a child birth with come complications. This could cost Nigerian corporations billions of USD annually and is subject to gross abuse.
The Bill would lead to Loss of Foreign Direct Investment!
This provision of the Bill will seriously endanger foreign direct investment particularly in the area of textile industry where many women work, and the competitiveness of Nigerian labour market will be grossly diminished. Section 8(g) is null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal of Section 8(b) (c); 9(a): Right to Equal Employment Opportunity and Right to Free Choice of Profession
The Bill Mandates Ordination of Women Bishops, Ezes and Sultans!
Section 8(b)(c) mandates right to equal employment and right to free choice of profession. There are no exemptions! Similar proposals are in Section 9(a). This would mean that the Nigerian Army must admit married women into serious combat roles against military guidelines. The Church must ordain married women, homosexuals and transgender priests despite the traditions of the Church. Sections 8 and 9 are impractical and therefore null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal Section 10(a): Elimination of discrimination in health
FREE Healthcare that is unpaid to Private Providers!
Section 10(a) mandates corporations and in Section 10(b) private institutions to provide free healthcare services to women who are pregnant and within 2 years of delivery and children less than 12 years. The Bill proposes elimination of discrimination against any person in health services. Why then are the FREE medical services only for pregnant women and children under 12 years? The proposal is impractical because the costs must be covered under the Universal National Health Insurance Scheme for everyone. Section 10(a)(b) is null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal 14(a-d): Provisions relating to offences and sentencing including costs, damages and compensations.
The Primate Bishop and Sultan Must Make Public Apologies for Preaching of Priests and Imams!
The Bill imposes imprisonment for non-offences, such as admonishing a girl child for wayward behavior could earn the parents imprisonment for one year or fine or both for verbal abuse of their child! In Section 14(a), a Bishop or Pastor who preaches against abortion could be liable for causing psychological and emotional abuse on any woman who has undergone abortion. In Section 14(b)(c) she will be eligible for monetary compensation as determined by the court. Section 14(d) makes the “head of the corporate body, agency, institution or community shall be personally liable for such punishment as maybe imposed by the court”. This means that if a local Muslim cleric or Catholic Priest causes what is deemed by the court to be psychological damage to a woman, the head of Muslims in Nigeria or the Primate Bishop would be personally liable. The court can mandate a “public apology” by the Pope or Sultan on the matter. This is outrageous! Section 14 is null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal to Part B Section 15 and 16:
The Nigerian Tax Payer money would be used to fund the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Federal Character Commission (FCC) that will divert attention to prosecution of religious leaders, traditional rulers, and parents because of abuse. NHRC and FCC will target efforts at destruction of the Nigerian culture, religions and traditions. The Bill is ill-conceived and must be rendered null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal of Section 24: Interpretation.
“Abuse” includes physical, psychological, sexual, verbal, economic, social, cultural or similar mistreatment or mishandling which interferes with the integrity of a female or male human being”
This definition of ‘abuse’ as ‘verbal’ was made broad to include normal parental scolding of children, preaching against ‘sins’ of adultery, abortion, fornication, etc., as is customary in our religious society. It includes preaching by Priests, Pastors, Evangelists, Bishops, Imams, Traditional heads that condemn actions contrary to our religion and culture. The latter curtails the “Freedom” of religion, and restricts the Church and traditional institution from correcting the evils of society such as the sins of abortion, contraception, fornication, adultery, etc. Perpetrators if condemned by preachers on the pulpit could take offence even when not specifically directed at them but at the entire congregation; the Bill allows anyone to claim ‘psychological’ distress in response to ‘verbal abuse’ that they consider violates ‘the integrity of a female or male human being’. There are no limitations or exemptions made by the Bill, on what could be considered as ‘abuse’ therefore all cultural manners of correction of children and young people would be considered as ‘abuse’ liable to fine and/or imprisonment. Daughters would go against mothers and sons against fathers in courts, with parents facing jail sentences as prescribed by the Bill. This would create a breakdown of ethics and morals, customs, traditional practices, and religion that holds the fabric of our society. Children growing up in Nigerian society that is compliant to Bill would have no cultural, religious, ethical and moral restrictions and no traditional upbringing for which we are known as a people. The impending chaos would lead ultimately to the disintegration of our entire socio-political system. The goal of the racist foreign sponsors of this Bill, under a deceptive title: Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill is in violation of the Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion in Section 38 of the Fundamental Rights in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This Bill is null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal to Section 24: Interpretation of Violence:
“Violence” includes physical, psychological, sexual, verbal or emotional maltreatment or assault.
The Bill seeks to classify as ‘violence’, verbal condemnation of actions and lifestyles not consistent with Nigerian religions, customs and traditions. This would create ethical and moral chaos with ultimate breakdown of our society. Section 24 is null and void and of no effect.
ACMPN Rebuttal to Section 24 on Interpretation of Discrimination:
“Discrimination against any person” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of his or her sex or gender or other condition or status,,, which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by any person, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
The definition of ‘Discrimination’ means any ‘distinction, exclusion and restriction’ in all areas, political, economic, social, cultural or any other field (e.g Religion, traditional Ezeship, Sultans, Emirs, Traditional Ohas, Traditional Prime-Ministership, Priests, Pastors, Catholic Bishops, Anglican Bishops,Imams, and others). The Bill underscores that there are NO EXEMPTIONS, in all applicable areas which women can take roles equal to men. Therefore, the Bill abolishes all male Catholic Priesthood, all male Anglican Priesthood, all male Igbo Ezeship, all Hausa-Fulani Emirs, all male Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa tribal traditional rulers, all male Seminaries, all female convents for Catholic nuns. The entire Bill is null and void and of no effect.
Press Release was
Academician Prof Dr Philip C. Njemanze MD Chair ACMPN for Committee on Review of National Laws.