A couple of days ago, the Twittersphere was agog with certain individuals from ‘Hausa Twitter‘ justifying child marriages. These hogs stated that it was a way to curb female promiscuity.
Child marriages are a popular practice, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria. In 2016, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, revealed that Nigeria had/has the highest number of child brides in the world, with 49 percent of Nigerian women married under the age of 18. These girls are in most cases, married off against their will, into premature hardships of marriage, and motherhood. A couple of this marriages as we saw in the News, ended in the death of the predatory husbands, due to molestation of these girls, especially sexually. These girls suffer Ostracism, and emotional betrayal from their families, and are left forever broken.
They are sold off to men in most cases, due to the poverty of their families, as well as cultural and religious practices. Level of education also plays a part in determining the age at which they are married off.
While a lot of people, especially Christians blamed Religion for this practice, they would be shocked if they found out that Mary was at least 12 years old when she was impregnated by God. Before you go bunkers, a little research would help you. So, no Religion is a safe space here. As much as our Religion and cultural practices have appropriated such nefarious practice, I think it is time for Nigeria, and Africa to let go of such and embrace Humanism. In the advent of easily sourced information on the health risks of early child bearing, individuals who still prop such practice are vile monsters and do not deserve to breathe in air.
At least, 47.6 percent of these girls have no formal education, not even Primary education.
Those who have, are married off in ranks as girls with no education tend to marry at an average of about 15 years, while age of marriage increases to 18 for girls with primary education. Average age of marriage for women with secondary education rises to about 21.
They are exposed to severe and traumatising experiences. Early marriages and child birth is extremely dangerous as it most likely results in the death of the mother. In addition, they are more likely to suffer from Fistula or even give birth to still babies. Children born to child mothers are more often than not, stunted in growth and emaciated.
This is not what these girls want!
In 2010, former Governor of Zamfara state, Yariman Bakura, after paying $100,000 as bride price, got married to a 13 year old Egyptian girl. Governor Yariman as at then, was well into his 60s. Now, the wedding didn’t take place in Egypt, but took place in Nigeria, this was because the Egyptian authorities would not put up with such a marriage as their law considers the bride a minor and the Law forbids such union. An Islamic cleric who spoke on the issue had no problem with the wedding, but was worried about the ostentatiousness of the bride price, as it was counter-Islam and Islam preaches moderation.
As much as this is seemingly backed culturally and even to some extent, religiously it is our duty as brain-possessing, thinking humans to do away with such for the betterment of the lives of these ones.
It is the job of the Ministries of Women Affairs and Justice to see to it that such practice is totally and vehemently abolished. Organisations like the Women Health And Rights Project (WRAHP), the Girls Not Bride campaign, amongst others need to be supported by all and sundry in this juggernaut against child marriages.
We owe it to these young lives to stand up and defend their existence. And show them that they are more than just “commodities” to make their families rich and satisfy the averse idiosyncrasies of vile hogs of such men.
By the way, the term “Child marriage” is a glorified referral for pedophilia which is rampant all through Nigeria.