Posted by GG on Wednesday,July 24th,2013,7:36 am(Nigerian Time)
Nigeria awoke with the rude shock of the news that 36 of our Senators led by Senator Yerima representing Zamfara State (who also had gotten himself a 13 year old Egyptian girl as a Bride) had left what they should be discussing and implementing for the growth and development of our Nation like Basic Health Amenities, Infrastructures,Quality Education,Security,Youth Empowerment and Employment,Light Issues,Hunger and Poverty Alleviation amongst other things plaguing us as a country only to discuss and pass a Bill on Child marriages. It was shocking and nonetheless appaling that they as fathers who also have daughters of their own should actually vote in support of that barbaric and inhumane law,thereby signing and sealing the fate of our teenage girls into mental slavery and torture in the name of marriage.
In many societies,marriage is a celebrated institution signifying a union between two adults and the beginning of their life together. But the experience of marriage is vastly different for the millions of girls who are wed while still children-many not yet teenagers.
Child marriage robs girls of the ordinary life experience,it denies their right to education,often restricts their friendships with peers and perpetuates the cycle of poverty in their communities.
Young married girls have little power in relation to their husbands and in laws in many of these cultures.They are therefore extremely vulnerable to domestic violence. This violence may include physical,sexual or psychological abuse. The experience of pregnancy can also be traumatising for a girl who is still a child herself. She may more likely have obstructed labour as her small body may be compromised during childbirth.
Multiple health risks arising from child marriage include the sexual exploitation (including forced sexual relations) that she is subjected to, as well as limited access to reproductive health services, despite the real and present danger of contracting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, STIs (sexually transmitted diseases) and the debilitating ailment of VVF/RVF (VVF-a tear in the flesh between the vagina and the urinary passage, usually due to prolonged labour, resulting in uncontrolled urine or feces in the case of recto-vaginal fistulae-RVF. . Child brides also have double the pregnancy death rates of women in their 20s.
In Ethiopia and Nepal,girls who often tried to escape their early marriages are intercepted and trafficked to brothels where they are exposed to violence and HIV. In Afghanistan,many girls had set themselves on fire because of their miserable existences. In Nigeria,the bill is just being passed by some of our perverts and paedophile senators and this is the same fate that they now want on our girls.Consequently, 70.8% of young women aged 20-29 in the North West zone are unable to read or write. Due to the fact that these girls are deprived so early of an education (including the access to information and knowledge) they remain bereft of the purchasing power necessary for an adequate diet, healthcare,skills, or even recourse to support in emergencies, all of which would enable them rise above the circumstances of abject poverty. Are we going to fold our arms,keep silent and let it happen,the answer is NO!!
Througout the world,more than 51 million girls younger than 16 are already given away in marriages,even though it is outlawed in many developing countries and series of international agreements and conventions like
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (among other charters and conventions) all directly or indirectly forbid the degrading and mistreatment of girls inherent in child marriage and outrightly forbids the practise. It is estimated that in the next decade,100 million more girls-or roughly 25,000 girls a day will marry before they turn 18.
Case Study: A Child Bride Speaks
The 2006 Nepal Report on Child Marriage includes the following testimony from a child bride:
“I was married to a nine-year-old boy when I was three. At that point of time, I was unaware of marriages. I don’t even remember my marriage event. I just remember that as I was too young and was unable to walk and they had to carry me and bring me over to their place. Getting married at an early age, I was destined to suffer a lot of hardships. I had to carry water in a small clay-pot in the mornings. I had to sweep and swap the floor everyday.
“Those were the days when I wanted to eat good food and wear pretty clothes. I used to feel very hungry, but I had to be satisfied with the amount of food that I was provided. I never got to eat enough. I sometimes secretly ate corns, soybeans, etc that used to grow in the field. And if I was caught eating, my inlaws and husband would beat me up accusing me of stealing from the field and eating. Sometimes the villagers used to give me food and if my husband and in-laws found out, they used to beat me up accusing me of stealing food from the house. They used to give me one black blouse and a cotton sari1 torn into two pieces. I had to wear these for two years.
“Never did I get other accessories like petticoats, belts etc. When my saris got torn, I used to patch them up and continue wearing them. My husband married three times after me. At present, he lives with his youngest wife. Since I married at an early age, early child-delivery was inevitable. As a result, I now have severe back problems. I used to weep a lot and consequently, I faced problems with my eyes and had to undergo an eye operation. I often think that if I had the power to think like I do now, I would never go to that house.
“I also wish I had not given birth to any children. Retrospective sufferings make me wish not to see my husband again. Nevertheless, I do not want him to die because I don’t want to lose my marital status.”
Let your voice be heard today!! Shout it LOUD and CLEAR! SAY NO TO CHILD -BRIDE TODAY!
Gracious Grace Nmah 24/7/13
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