Of all the stupidest things I read this week, none was more stupid than the Ekiti State Police Command standing behind their dismissal of a pregnant policewoman because according to Mr. Babatunde Mobayo, the command’s commissioner, “Section 126 of the regulation (states) that married woman police (sic) who is pregnant may be granted maternity leave, while Section 127 (states that) unmarried woman police (sic) who becomes pregnant shall be discharged from the Force and shall not be enlisted except with the approval of the IGP.”
So if Sis had been married, she would not have been punished. And if the man who got her pregnant had been a police officer one is to assume he wouldn’t have lost his job. It wouldn’t have mattered then whether he was married or not. We are not serious people at all. The married policewoman who becomes pregnant gets to go on maternity leave but her unmarried counterpart doesn’t deserve the same treatment because why? It is frustrating that in this 21st century, our women are still being treated like second class citizens with single women at the bottom of the ladder. In some cities, young women can’t rent because foolish landlords refuse to rent to unmarried women. Some hotels won’t let them in because no man. What’s next? Single women can’t drive? Shop? Eat? Women need to show proof of marriage to teach? Enter cabs? Travel? The ridiculousness knows no end. Na who do us this thing?
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I don’t know what this woman’s background is but I know how tough it is in Naija to get jobs. She lands one and then she’s losing it because she’s an unmarried, adult woman carrying the baby in her womb with her full chest. Biko, someone make it make sense because I am struggling and my head is pounding like mad. Now, this woman is going to spend the time she should have been enjoying the pregnancy fretting over her loss of income. The same people responsible for her predicament are the same people who will demonize her for trying to make money any way she can because it is highly unlikely, in our economy, that she will get another job anytime soon. Say she has no family who can help her out, say she has no friends who can help out, say she has no savings, what is she meant to do with a baby on the way? And we know how expensive babies are. What’s this woman to do? Gather pebbles and pray over them until they turn to bundles of money? Walk in traffic with a cup out begging for alms? Wait for money to fall like manna from heaven? What manner of outdated thinking is this that believes that this section 127 is law that should be taken seriously and followed in this day and age? And the IGP who needs to give (his?) approval, why didn’t he give it before this mess happened? And why, oh, why is this still even a thing? Speaking to a journalist, Dr Innocent Chukwuma, the Regional Director for Ford Foundation, West Africa and a police reform activist said that the offending section has been repealed but not gazetted, the latter being only an administrative procedure. Mr. Mobayo claims it hasn’t been but look, it shouldn’t matter. Laws are man-made. They are bound by time and place. They are not unchangeable. Certainly when a law is not moral, when it discriminates, when it is as foolish as this one is, we should not be afraid to ignore it and demand for it to be revoked. The world would not end if we did. It frightens me to think of how many more anti-women laws are still on the books in Nigeria. Maybe this is the time to comb through our laws and make sure that oppressive ones are expunged.
It does not make any kind of sense that in the 21st century a woman in Nigeria cannot keep her job because she is not married, whether by fate or by choice. How is a husband going to make Police Constable Olajide Omolola a better policewoman, pregnant or not? Na husband follow am go training? Apparently, she was found good enough for the job, she passed all the tests. So Ekiti is going to lose a good cop because she had the audacity to be pregnant without getting married first. Is the police force now also the morality police? Will they start carrying out virginity tests too so that women daring to have sex outside of marriage do not get to stain the sanctity of the force? Because you know, to get pregnant out of wedlock, the officer would have to have been having sex out of it too. Shame on all the officers who signed Olajide Omolola’s dismissal, who uphold her dismissal, who defend her dismissal and those who remain silent in the face of this unfairness. Sometimes Naija too dey shame person.