1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
This study is written in view of the growth of the waves of feminism, which pay special attention to women’s rights within the society that is more or less gender insensitive. It is following the regard of women as human legal entities who or which are endowed by nature or by law with the capacity to enter into legal relations such as contracts of employment, commercial contracts and marriage contracts without detraction from social constraints. Thus this study is concerned with the sum total of rights and duties concerned with the women as provided in the constitution by reason of their legal affiliation to the state-Nigeria. Rights, as used in this regard, are privileges or prerogatives that are conferred on a person or a group by law. In other words, they are lawful claims, which the state defined and is ready to protect.1Rights (both political and civil rights) according to Olakanmi Olajide, are fundamental freedom which all men and women, are entitled, without discrimination. These, he further noted, are based on the laid down philosophy of the international law which reads: “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
Rights are entitlements that are essential for human existence. Umozurike, Oji U. observes that these rights are third generation rights. The first generation rights, which were first to be recognized are: the right to life, liberty, dignity, etc; the second generation rights are: the right to education, health, work, etc; and other third generation rights include the right of self-determination, to develop, to natural wealth and resources, etc.3 However it must be pointed that in spite of the declarations for these rights, there are still agitations for freedom and rights which are evident in the different waves for the rights of women, thus showing that these rights are not being enjoyed by the people they are meant for.
Chukwudifu A. Oputa says that every human being (i.e. both male and female) is a valuable creature on which justice is built. The Bible commands us to love one another, but justice asks that if we cannot love, at least we do not injure. For anything that constitutes an injury is thus against the law, after all the law cannot compel us to love. However, he maintains, it is pertinent to note that the violation of rights, especially of women is the fault of the countrymen who have failed to cultivate law culture or acquire the virtue of reverence of law.4 Olisa Agbakoba submits that when injustice, discrimination and degradation of human value tend to thrive, human right groups such as women liberation movement or wave of feminism is very imminent. There is no doubt that women have played dynamic and constructive roles and thus contributed tremendously to societal development, but those roles as well as their status are yet to break the chauvinistic and patriarchal dominance. They are socialized to accept inferior position to their male counterpart.
Afikpo, the second metropolitan town in Ebonyi State, has the population of 61956 out of which women are 29864.6 Here the women represent about 48.9% of the population and also command numerical strength. But the age-long inferior status or perception of women that emanated from cultural and religions beliefs have continued to affect them (women). Some of these beliefs have been practiced for so long that they are embedded in the societal norms, and such that the laws of the land or constitutions and international instruments, which protect the rights of women, are flagrantly infringed in the guise of cultural and religions beliefs. Jivka Marinova notes that: We represent over half of humanity. We give life, we work, love, create, struggle, and have fun. We currently accomplish most of the work essential to life and the continued survival of humankind. Yet our place in society continues to be undervalued.