Child Marriages- Who really pays the price?

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October 3, 2013 By Mary Ajoke Akangbe

The debate on the Child bride is not going to go away anytime soon; and rightly so. Not as long as the Media keeps creating platforms for the Main Characters/Perpetrators as in the case of Senator Yerima of Nigeria, to move the post as often and however they wish in order to justify the act of Child marriage.

During his recent appearance on Stream TV, he indicated that it is up to the parents to decide when their daughters are ready to marry; which makes one wonder what the right of the girl or their opinion is on the matter. He was quick to bring religion into the equation as well, but thankfully another Muslim, a Scholar and Solicitor begged to differ and stressed the importance of Education for parents on the implications of early marriages and Educating young girls rather than take them out of school to be married off.

UNESCO~ Education for all Global monitoring Report states that ‘If all women completed primary education; 66% less women would die in Childbirth. Education’s transformative power lights up every stage of journey for a better life, it said.

It was recently reported (Metro; Sept 10th) that an 8year old girl forced to marry a 40 year old man by her family died of ‘Internal injuries on her wedding night. This horrific injury happened in Yemen, one of the countries cited by the senator and Professor in their argument in favour of child marriages.
It is common knowledge that extreme poverty, lack of education and generally brain washing are the reasons ignorant parents give their children away without full knowledge of what the future holds for them ,even if they survived.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch have sent a 15page briefing paper titled ‘Ending Child marriage and Domestic Violence ‘it highlights the health and economic consequences of marriage under the age of 18 and violence against women and girls.

They urged the President to full enforcement of the (EVAW)Law that was passed in 2009. A 2011 government report found that 25 percent of the women and girls diagnosed with fistula were younger than 16 when they married and 17 percent were under 16 when they first gave birth.

Fistula is not the only health hazard as it is now trendy to throw into every argument .Children born as a result of child marriages, suffer increased health risks.

It is worth noting that some Countries like Jordan, Egypt and Bangladesh amongst others have increased the minimum age of marriage to 18.

In the words of Nelson Mandela~” A new world will be worn; not by those who stand at a distance with their arms folded, but those who are in the arena”
So here what some Leading Women have to say on Child Marriages;

Olori Grace Tijani-Executive Director at DASAC~ Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service.

“A child is a child; let her be!!! Her stages of development should be allowed to transpire naturally and not by force. According to Article 1 of the Convention on the Right of a child, child marriage is now widely recognised as a violation of children’s rights. In 2003,President Olusegun Obasanjo signed the declaration, so it is beyond belief that children as young as 11years old are being forced to marry men old enough to be their father. Under 18 in Nigeria are neither eligible to vote or drive, so why be married off? The Senator in question apparently got 2 of his girls educated to University level; I perceive this as inequality and pure discrimination against girl child of the less privileged who are often deprived of basic human rights such as education, health and development.” Injustice!

Susan Olajumoke Fajana-Thomas; a socio-political campaigner, a Councillor in London and PR/Image Consultant says; “I belief our focus should be on the child’s needs and the commitment to protect and give them the opportunity for a better future. Child marriages robs girls of their childhood, disrupts or end their education, limits their life opportunities. It also increases the risk of becoming a victim of violence and jeopardises their health. Pregnancy for adolescent girls poses a serious risk of developing obstetric fistula, since their small pelvis make them prone to obstructed Labour. Girls who marry young are often expected to take on responsibilities at home that are prioritized over attending school. I believe any man, having sexual relations with a 12year old is paedophile, whether married or not”

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