Any Attempt To Come For My Sister At Age 13!
It has become a bit too worrisome for me that we are engaged in the debate over child marriage and I believe it is the same for many who have heard about it. It is sad that underage girls would be robbed of their childhood at the mercy of chauvinistic perverts and pedophiles who claim it’s a cultural or religious thing.
Last week, the Nigerian Senate retained a clause in the law implying that marriages contracted with under-aged girls are permissible; the controversial clause was proposed for deletion before a serving Senator objected on the grounds of religion, and the said senator is known to have contracted such marriages in the past.
I recall a story I had from a friend who as a Youth Corper in Gombe in 2011, had the opportunity to participate in the INEC registration exercise in the 2011 elections and she was to carry out the exercise in a remote village. She said “we had requested that the women in the community come out for registration as the females are always locked indoors not to be seen in public. The men had initially told us that we will have to come to an enclosed place to register their wives which we, my fellow corper and I, out rightly refused. We eventually agreed to register them in a slightly enclosed spot. It was an experience I will never forget in a hurry”.
She continued,”the supposed wives were mostly underage girls and some we were told they were on “probation” for their prospective husbands. We refused to register them as most of them were below the age of 18 but the argument of the village head was that they were married and so they are already adults. Coincidentally, that argument was the exact clause in the constitution that the Nigerian senate voted in favor of its retention”.
She said she recalled seeing some of those young girls with their children. It baffled me to hear that children were already bearing their own children. I remember telling her that if she was born in that village, she would have been a grandmother, which we both laughed over. Sleep had no way through my eyes that night and i just kept telling myself ‘it’s their life’?.
What terrified me the most was that I was told that those young girls were married to very old men who had countable decayed teeth glued to their gums. I looked back at when I was at their age(s); the beautiful thoughts of the married life I dreamt about were in stark contrast to what I witnessed. For me, there is clearly no love and romance in a union involving a 70 year old man and a 12-year old girl? Marriage in these cases was more of an obligation and not out of mutual respect, love and companionship which a marriage ought to be.
Regardless of what the law permits or what culture allows; child marriage is a great abuse and can never be right. I wonder if these law makers have ever thought of the increase in VVF (Vesico Vaginal Fistule), an illness associated with young girls being forced into motherhood. There is no justification for this action by the Senate and there never would. Whether or not the Law endorses child marriage, the society must rise up and defend the cause of these children who are vulnerable to these perverts. We cannot sit by and continue to allow these oppressive actions continue.
The law may have retained a clause that should have been deleted but laws are made for man and not man for the laws. We need to enlighten the public more on the ills of this evil provision and ensure that it is removed. More importantly, parents and the informed society at large, all have a role to play in guarding the future of our daughters and sisters now and those yet unborn.