THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

Men and women are entitled to the full protection of their rights because they are human beings. At its most basic level, ‘human rights’ are safeguarded prerogative granted because a person is alive. A right is therefore a claim to something (by the right of the holder) that can be exercised and enforced under a set of grounds or justification without interference from others. The question of the ‘universal’ or relative character of the rights declared in the major instruments of the human rights movement has been a source of debate and advocacy. The contests between these positions took on renewed vigour as the human movement slowly developed and reneged on making specific provision on gender issues, significant development emerged over the decades between claims related with cultural relativism on one hand, and universalism on the other hand, as they relate to gender in different territories. The international human rights literature has conceptualized the problem of discrimination of women as involving self-determination. This research considers discrimination as resulting from creation, maintenance and perpetuation of structures of inequality against women as opposed to men. It also argues that the Nigerian government and human rights activists, by being more responsive to the international regimes of human rights, do not pay sufficient attention to indigenous philosophies, traditions and socio-cultural factors which hamper the effective actualization of rights to all human beings . In Africa, the treaty that cursorily provides for the protection of reproductive and sexual rights is the African Charter on Human and People’s rights and the protocol to the African charter situates sexual health and rights within the recognition of women’s reproductive rights as human rights. The adoption of the protocol signified a renewed commitment to the advancement of women’s rights as human rights in African region and reinforces international law on women’s equality.