The issue of girl-child marriage is no longer a new thing. But the other side of it is whether people, -parents, in particular, understand the dangers involved in giving out their under-aged children in marriage. So, what is child marriage by definition and is it only among Africans that we have it? What are the reasons for girl-child marriage(s), how can we curb or expunge the practice? Are there any social implications? Let’s explore to find these.
Child –marriage is any formal or informal union where one or both parties are under the age of 18 years. Reliable records indicate that 12illion girls are married before the age of 18 years. Child marriage is found across countries, cultures, and religions. For example, the practice happens in Nigeria, Brazil, Indonesia, Ethiopia, North America, and Europe just to mention a few.
Many reasons have been advanced for this form of a barbaric, callous and dangerous form of union. Among these are gender inequality, poverty, traditions, and insecurity. The most common among these reasons are poverty and tradition/culture.
Many parents found it difficult to cater for their children after birth and therefore resort to trading them off before the ripe age of 18 years expecting that they would get some financial rewards from such ‘business’. Also, they believe that the child(ren) will no longer be their own ‘headache’ in terms of welfare which now rests solely on the husband. Similarly, in some traditions/cultures, friends agree to marry off their girl-child even while in the womb. The idea is like trade by barter. The help rendered in the past or to be rendered now or future is compensated with the promise of such under-aged girls without any recourse to their well-being or future.
On the social aspect, they regard it as a social status symbol making their girl-child raise babies to populate their environments, not minding the health and psychological hazards involved. The underage is later in her husband’s house turned to a sex slave and instrument of abuse on the farm instead of going for formal or basic education to prepare her for future or womanhood. Some of them that are lucky to be in school before they are married off are scared of their precarious situations and daily looking forward to a change or stop to this uncivilized practice. For example, in Ethiopia, it was recorded that a girl was engaged at 8 years and now 12 years old!!! Her major dream now is looking forward to the moment she would leave the school to live with her husband-old enough to be her father.
Because of the serious social negative impact, the child-marriage is having on these innocent under-age girls and the society, a panorama was conducted with the public and other professionals. Let’s hear them:
INTERVIEW WITH MRS JAIYEOLA
Question-TIN- What do you understand by girl-child marriage?
Answer-Mrs. Jaiyeola- By my understanding, girl-child marriage is a union between an adult man and an under-aged girl of less than 18 years.
Question-TIN-What in your opinion is responsible for this?
Answer-Mrs Jaiyeola–I think it is lack of education and poverty.
Question-TIN- Can you give out your girl-child in marriage at such a tender age?
Answer- Mrs. Jaiyeola- Never. My girl-child(ren) are in school and could not be engaged or married until after their education. By that time, they would be mature to decide who to marry.
Question-TIN-Do you envisage any danger in giving out a girl –child in marriage?
Answer- Mrs. Jaiyeola- Yes. It is not a good health-wise. The body system of the girl is not yet developed, she should still be under her parents and in school learning about her body and environment instead of rushing to involving herself in making babies.
Question-TIN-What counsel would you offer to parents giving out their children in marriage at the tender age of 12 years or less?
Answer- Mrs. Jaiyeola- They should desist from doing so. They should think of the future of these under-aged and should not be selfish because of the financial gains, they want to achieve. Also, the governments (nationally and globally) should make a law on this and enforce the implementation of the law not to allow girls below 18 years to go into marriage; they should make it illegal.
-Mrs. Jaiyeola is an Educationist and Statistician in Public service
INTERVIEW WITH MRS ALEOLUWA
Question-TIN –What do you understand by girl-child marriage?
Answer-Mrs Aleoluwa-Girl-Child marriage is any formal or informal union where one or both of the partners are under 18 years of age, especially the girl who is prone to many complications.
Question-TIN-Do you think this type of union is very convenient?
Answer-Mrs Aleoluwa- NO. It is a marriage of inconvenience where a girl-child is coarse or manipulated by parents into early and dangerous marriage without any consideration for the girl’s well being.
Question-TIN- Is this practice peculiar to the African continent?
Answer-Mrs AleOluwa- NO. It is universal. Although more common in Africa. Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 years; countries, cultures and religions not withstanding-23 girls, every minute, nearly every 2 seconds!
Question-TIN- Do you think this girl-child marriage brings positive development where it is practiced?
Answer-Mrs AleOluwa- There is no right-thinking person that would support an under-aged girl for marriage because of its numerous complications such as subjecting the girl to so many hardships in life, because she is not prepared for the task ahead. She may not know how to cope with relationship, hence end up being labeled ‘a failure’ if eventually divorced. Also, she will be under psychological trauma owing to a greater risk of violence, orchestrated by her supposedly rightful development. Because that is the age to be in a school where she will meet her age mates to learn so many things that would add value to her life.
Question-TIN-Apart from what you’ve mentioned, are there any other disadvantages?
Answer-Mrs AleOluwa- They ate numerous. She is robbed of her childhood experience; she will be trapped in poverty if she doesn’t go to school or learn any trade. It is a form of sexual abuse if forced into such a marriage by the parents. This type of union prevents such a girl-child from achieving her full potentials and unable to realize her dreams or ambitions as she wants.
Question-TIN-Health wise, is the girl-child safe?
Answer-Mrs AleOluwa- Health wise, she is exposed to so many complications ranging from sexually transmitted diseases(STD), mental illness, surgical cases i.e. ruptured uterus, vesicovaginal fistula in which urine will be leaking uncontrollably out to a hole formed, linked to the urinary tract to the reproductive part. Because she is inexperienced, may not allow the baby, product of this marriage to survive because it’s a situation of ‘’a baby has given birth to a baby’’.
Question-TIN- So, there is no advantage in this girl-child marriage?
Answer-Mrs AleOluwa-Even if there is an advantage since the disadvantages override the merits, it is not worth it and we are talking about life in this case. If we value life, we will not look at the advantageous side of it which is very minimal. We should think of life which is paramount; marriage and procreation can still be achieved in later years.
-Mrs. AleOluwa is a professional Nurse at LAUTECH, Oshogbo
WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD?
-According to Nurse Aleoluwa, obstetric fistula is an injury caused by obstructed labour and which often results in ‘Constance incontinence, shame, and other health problems for social segregation of the victims. Their young bodies are not fully developed and ready to bear children. In Nigeria, Niger state has the largest rate of child marriage in the world!!! Something drastic is to be done about it.
Our Churches, Mosques, Temples (India) should start preaching or sermonizing against child marriage. Pastors/Imams should find out their ages before joining them as husband and wife and use the word of God to discourage such a union.
Communication for change is crucial in this aspect. Let there be street drama, radio and television jingles to sensitize the populace all over the world on the dangers embedded in upholding this practice.
The belief that girl-child marriage is part of some cultures/traditions notwithstanding; it must be discouraged in order not to perpetuate the circle of poverty in various societies from generation to generation. The solution is not to condemn all traditions but to work with communities to change the traditions from within. According to GIRLS NOT BRIDES Champion, Graca Machel’’ Traditions are made by people; they can be changed by people’’.
Girl- Child marriage is not only for girls. Boys are married off too. According to UNICEF, 156 million men alive today were married before 18 years of age. Child marriage often pushes boys into the workforce and forces them to undertake adult responsibilities at unripe ages and before they are ready for it.
The Centre for women development in Nigeria and other similar departments in countries affected should look into this issue objectively and act fast to discontinue the trend by partnering with their communities, agencies and the media to use oral-media in campaigning against this deadly monster of child-marriage.
Interview conducted by –Idowu Julius
No matter how busy you are, try to observe the underlisted to remain healthy:
- Drink less milk in your tea. Instead, add lemon or lime juice
- Drink more water during the day time but drink less at night time
- Do not drink more than 2 cups of coffee during the day
- Eat less oily foods
- Best sleeping times are between 10 pm to 6 am
- Don’t take medicines with cold water but with warm and take your medicines half an hour before going to bed. Never take medicine and lie down immediately
- As you age, stop drinking chilled water but drink only water at room temperature
- Try to sleep for at least 8 hours per day
HOW TO TALK IN PUBLIC WITH NATIVE INTELLIGENCE
Lately, a question was put to FFK in Calabar by a journalist on who funds his touring sphere? His response was an outburst of anger, disdain vituperative words lased on the journalist, a reflection of his true self-that has become history.
Please find below a fine personality, a politician of repute who was in a similar situation as Fani Kayode and his response;
SENATOR RASHEED ADEWOLU LADOJA’S REACTION WHEN IN SIMILAR SITUATION AS FANI KAYODE,
Former Governor of Oyo State, Ladoja was once asked an embarrassing question, more embarrassing than the question that exposed FFK’s ill-manners in Calabar.
VENUE: Board Room Nigerian Tribune
MISSION-Ladoja Gubernatorial Campaign Media Interaction
QUESTION- Senator Ladoja, you look so dull, drab, unattractive, unintelligent, and without colour. Do you think a dullard like you can be a reasonable governor of Oyo State where sharper minds have tried unsuccessfully?
The whole hall went into mute session. The lateEgbon Bola Alphonso who was one of his campaign coordinators unconsciously uttered”Haa Ojo-Lanre”! For a minute, it was a graveyard eerie silence.
ANSWER-Senator Ladoja looked up, smiled and said,” Ojo-Lanre, thank you for your question. True, I am not a handsome man by my look, I don’t labour much before a lady fall for me. You know my wives are cute. Check them out”. And if you think I am dull and unintelligent, Ojo-Lanre, you are correct but you will agree with me that Olivet High, Oyo is one of the best secondary schools in Nigeria with a strict form of admission to their schools particularly when you want to join them at class four. I was the first to be admitted to join class four because I was so dull and unintelligent. And also, my being an unintelligent fellow helped me to pass all my subjects with’A’S which forced the Federal Government to buffet me with a Federal Government Scholarship to Belgium to study Petroleum Engineering….” ”Also, I have used my unattractiveness to run intercontinental maritime companies successfully since I went into the private endeavour”…….deafening applause for a wise man.
I quickly ran to the computers department to supervise my pages.
Ladoja who toured the Tribune met me at the computer section, shook my hand and looked at my face and said:” Ojo-Lanre, I like the way you forced me to blow my trumpet. I respect your style”
And since that day, we have been friends.
Background Exposure, Being brought up properly, Mental Health, Native intelligence, proper education, values orientations, all matter in the affairs of men, Senator Ladoja is a great man. You can only give what you have.
RAPE ‘PANDEMIC ‘IN NIGERIA
Rape is sexual intercourse with a woman or man against her/his will or without consent. It is also a rape when her consent is obtained under duress or threat of death or hurt. I t can also happen when her consent is obtained by virtue of a position of authority, professional relationship and the like.
The whirlwind of rape in Nigeria is becoming alarming and unless something drastic is quickly done to nib the evil acts in the bud, we may be heading towards the state of nature which Thomas Hobbes, the 17th-century Philosopher famously described as ‘’ Solitary, nasty, brutish and short.’’ That was a situation where anybody could kill, maim, and rape without recourse to any law; thus Thomas called for the establishment of government to maintain law and order.
Rape happens globally regardless of colour, race, ethnicity, economic status, religion and culture. An African proverb says ‘If a crocodile can eat its own egg, what will it not do to the flesh of a frog’’. It is no longer a news to hear, read and see nowadays a father raping his 4 or 7-year-old daughter in his own house, on his own matrimonial bed!!
Rape has existed before now but not as rampant as it is being reported now. Perhaps it has now become novel because our society and government have not given the aggressive ‘war’ it deserves like the ‘’BOKO HARAM’’ insurgency we are currently wrestling with. Suffice it to recall cases of rape of recent: The Dangora serial rapist, who specializes in climbing the fence to rape his victims. He was alleged to have raped 40 women in one town within a year! Also, we have a 12-year old girl raped over two months ago in North-West of Jigawa state, Baraka Bello that was gang-raped and murdered in Ibadan South –West of Oyo State, the university Undergraduate- Uwavera Omozuwa allegedly raped and murdered in a church after her head was smatched with a fire extinguisher and a 17-year old girl who was gang-raped in the South –West of Ekiti State just to mention a few.
WHY THE RAPE?
- THE HOME-Some parents over trust their relations-cousins, brothers, neighbours etc and leave these vulnerable ones in their care unsuspectedly. Some parents are also too preoccupied chasing money or business at the expense of their children until the damage has been done before they realize.
- POVERTY-Poverty has made some parents live in a one-room apartment and having sex with their spouse in the presence of their children. These children, therefore, learn the act of having sex right from their unsuspecting parents early in life. Also, some unscrupulous neighbours use money or other valuables to entice young unsuspecting and innocent girls, which eventually lured them to being raped.
- INDECENT DRESSING-Wearing of transparent, provocative clothing in the street, Church, School, and social gatherings entices the debased minds to rape. Close to this is late night clubbing.
- WRONG CHOICE OF FRIENDSHIP-Accompany friends to a male house unsuspecting that the friend had already ‘sold’ her body to the boy or man. She uses an excuse to go out but leaves her friend behind with the evil perpetrator while her friend would be waiting for her return.
- USE OF HARD DRUG AND ALCOHOL-Rapists have been found times unnumbered to be under the influence of hard drugs or alcohol before perpetrating the evil act. Some of them may even look ‘friendly’ at get- together party but lazed unsuspecting female’s drinks with a hard drug that will make her sleep off.
- INDECENT MOVIE/ADVERT-Rapists go for indecent movies, pornography to arouse their emotions and thereafter look for his prey. Also, some advertisement s on the tube (TV) entice rapists and encourage them to put into practice what they have watched.
UNICEF reported in 2015 that one of the four girls and one in 10 boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before age 18. Over 31.4% of girls said their first sexual encounter had been raped or forced sex of some kind. Similarly, the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development reported that 1200 girls had been raped in 2012 in Rivers, a coastal state in South-Eastern Nigeria. We should go beyond the myth of rape that it’s because of indecent dressing, late nights and the like that make people rape innocent girls/women. Any reasonable human being should not think of rape. It is only people with a mental weakness that are found raping innocent girls. It shows a lack of confidence in a man or inferiority complex or deliberate wickedness or jealousy. Men are meant to defend women because they are symbols of motherhood. They are to be handled with all modesty just as we do for our parents.
EVIL EFFECTS OF RAPE ON THE VICTIMS
- Loss of divine Pride- Virginity (if she is a virgin)
- Unwanted pregnancy- turns her to a teenage mother untimely.
- May contract sexual transmitted disease (STD)
4. It may lead to death or deformity
- It may lead to madness
- May turn to prostitution
- May hate men and vowed not to marry
- Afraid of relating to men
(The list is inexhaustible)
WATCH FOR SIGNS THAT MAY LEAD TO RAPE AND WHAT TO DO:
1. You owe it to yourself and future as a young girl or woman to stay away from an uncle, neighbours or friend,( no matter how intimate with you) trying to touch, or hold sensitive parts of your body, such as breasts, buttocks or genitals, saying he’s just playing with you. As a boy, you should also look out for these signs because ‘sick’ men and women these days use these signs to test the waters.
- Avoid being alone with anybody who has expressed interest in having a ‘special’ relationship with you in the past.
- Don’t ever go anywhere with strangers or semi-strangers like your brother or sister’s friend, or relations you personally do not know anything about, no matter the reasons and without your parent’s approval.
- Always be cautious and listens to your inner mind (small voice) that warns you not to go somewhere or do something you are about to do.
- Always ask questions especially when you are asked to accompany anybody somewhere
- Scream LOUDLY when you are trapped
- Scratch, bite, as much as you could when trapped by a rapist (don’t make it easy for him)
- Don’t believe in the threat-‘’ you will die if you don’t allow me’’
- Report to your parents, teacher, your friend, your friend’s parents as quickly as possible
10 Reject the myth of stigmatization-tell it to whoever cares to listen to you
The following suggested panacea will minimize drastically the problem of rape:
- The government must make rape a serious capital offence; if convicted, should warrant nothing less than 40 years imprisonment with 12 strokes of public canning in the home town of the culprit.
2. Quick dispensation of justice should be paramount in rape cases (at most within 4 months of prosecution and conviction)
- The security agencies should take rape victims seriously and with compassion whenever they report issues to them and not embarrassing them with a barrage of questions to humiliate them the more as if they are careless with their r bodies.
- The searchlight must be beamed on the Nigeria Film’s Censors Board to edit aspects of their movies that are erotic. They can pass on their messages to the public without including deep romantic scenes. The advertising practitioners should not allow illicit advertorials to feature on the television stations.
- Parents should separate their own room from their children and should not allow grown-up boys and girls to sleep on the same bed.
7. Victims of rape or their Parents should visit NAPTIP who will help to advise and possibly facilitate the case with the appropriate authority.
Victims of rape should stop seeing themselves as worthless or hopeless because they have been defiled. The person who is really worthless and hopeless is the person who defiled them and once the victim of rape does not keep quiet, sooner or later, the perpetrator of the evil act will face the wrath of the law.
By- Idowu ‘Tunde
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