Child Not Bride
Campaign against girl child marriage:
Child marriage is a forceful marriage of girls under 18years. It is human right violation that prevent girls from obtaining an education, enjoying optimal health and empowerment. Since 1948, the united nation UN and other international agencies have attempted to stop child marriage article 16 of the universal declaration of human rights states that person must be full age when married and that marriage should be entered into freely and with constant. Through child marriage can be found in every region in the world, from the Middle East to Lati America, South Asia to Europe, thus over 650 million East women alive today were married as child. Further more of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will marry before they turn age of 15 and report have shown that young girls who marry before the age of 18 have a greater risk of becoming victims of ultimate partner violence than those who married at an older age. This is especially true when the age gap between the child and spouse is large. Child marriage can be traced right from the war era where girls are “wages of war” to compensate fighter, to be sold, molested and bought as slave and ever since then girl has been vulnerable to attack ranging from child marriage to victim of rape, VVF and FGM. According to UN women, 23 million of Nigeria girls are married before they turn 15 years of age and still on a increase but this figure can be bought down if we can empower, educate, balance and involve regions and traditional leaders.
Furthermore, when we talk about empowering a girl child, it a mean of eradicating poverty because poverty will make parents arrange early marriage for their girl child and she have no choice due to the fact that they need the bride price to sustain the family and as a medium of reducing the number of children for then to clothe, feed and shelter. To empower a girl child is to empower the family and the community where she lives and to empower girls is to empower your country and economic growth. In most instances, girls lack empowerment skill and as such are seen as a burden to the family in terms of upkeep, clothing, feeding and financing her education. To empower a girl child is to bring out the best in her as well as to increase her sense of understanding.
Moreso, education is the best legacy to our girl child. Education develop their potential, find a place for them in the society and give them voice for tomorrow. From report, 82% of girls with no education were married before 18, as opposed to 13% of girl who had at least finished secondary education, this statistics shows a significant threat of girls getting married as an option if not educated and the moment a girl child gets married her educational career is halted, her potential and aspiration becomes shadow of itself. This, most parent sees education of a girl child as a waste since they will get married to a man that will take (good) care of her and perhaps she will no longer be beneficial to their family rather to her husband and her family; that is the wrong motive spreading. Thus in some part of the states in Nigeria, parents have complain that their educational sector is poor but not withstanding they can play their role by sending them to school.
Also tradition is a major reason of child marriage. In some tradition once a girl child sees her menstruation then she is set to get married and in some tradition the man would have paid bride price ever since when she was much young for her to be trained up to when he want to marry her. This tradition varies from one place to another. There is a need to allow old tradition to die in order to stop child marriage. We are in a change era but some traditions are refusing to change.
High death rate which include eclampsia, post partum hemorrhage, HIV infection, malaria and obstructed labour. Obstructed labor is the result of a girl pelvis being too small to deliver a foetus. Many times, obstructed labor leads to fistulas. The risk for fistula is as high as 88% once a fistula is formed, fecal or urinary incontinence may result and may lead to humiliation and resultant depression. Also mortality rate are 73% higher for infants born to older mother. These deaths may be partly because the young mothers are unhealthy, immature and lack access to social and reproductive services. Also there is high possibility of cervical cancer.
They are more likely to experience mental health problems including depression, anxiety and dipolar disorders. They are also more likely to become dependent on alcohol, drug and nicotine. According to Dr. Yann Le Strat, the study’s author said he was surprised by what he called the “High burden” of such marriages “with a 41% increased risk of mental disorder, child marriage should be considered a major psychological trauma”.
In Nigeria and most African countries, the age of eighteen (18) is seen as a mature age as such person above 18 years can vote and be voted for, live independently and associate mentally and socially with the neighbors, friends and family members. child marriage limit the girls social status as she is sometimes isolated from her closet friends and neighbor by her husband for fear of “unknown”. Child marriage tend to instill “kitchen wife” syndrome to her social life and dispute her social interaction to the outside world.
1. Cultural and religious leaders have a significant role to play to stop child marriage since they are being respected and supported by their people and what so ever they say stands.
2. Enforcing the child right law in the remaining 13 states
3. Setting a balance at home between the female and the male child on their daily domestic activities
4. Empowering girl child that are out of school or early pregnancies debase her strength.
If child marriage is not properly addressed, UN Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 calling for a two-thirds reduction in the under five mortality rate and a three fourths reduction in the maternal deaths by 2015 will not be met of which there is little or no decline in mortality rate. Also organization expressed concern that, by 2050 the number of children married before the age of 18 would double if no fundamental change aimed at reversing the trend was made. Thus Nigeria ranks 11th highest in child brides in Africa, with 23million girls and women married off in childhood. This calls for quick action to stop this trend.
By Oladosu Adenike (Oladosuadenike32@gmail.com)