CHILD MARRIAGES: SAVING 11 WITH 11

The menace is tearing down the future and girls end up on the wrong side of it. We need to as fast.

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ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, JORDAN - AUGUST 2014: Noor, age unknown (roughly 16), awaits her groom in a beauty salon in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, August 25, 2014. While marriage under the age of eighteen was a common Syrian tradition before the start of the civil war, more and more Syrian girls are marrying at a younger age because of the insecurity of the war, because many families feel the girls in their family may be sexually harassed if they are not under the care of a husband, and because of prospect of alleviating the financial burden of one more mouth to feed. (Photo by Lynsey Addario/Getty Images Reportage)

Eleven is a number, it is written as ‘11’ and its basically just writing ‘1’ twice but lets stop there before I give you the whole etymology behind the word ‘eleven’. You must be wondering why I’m so interested in the number but it is necessary concerning child marriages.

The United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women released a report yesterday where Nigeria ranked ‘11’. I don’t really need to spell out the entire list of 20 countries that made the list. All I would just say is that it the list spelt out one name, Africa. Having more than ‘11’ countries in the list, Africa seems to be the home of child marriages.

Surprised? I can tell you that I am surprised and I am not at the same time reason being that I wonder how such a menace still finds its way to operate in this 21st century where civilization and technology are highlights. And then I’m not surprised because we have had cases of this in the past and whether it is ignorance or just care-free attitude from people, the issue is getting out of hand.

ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, JORDAN – AUGUST 2014: Bara’ah, 17, a Syrian refugee from Ghouta, in the Damascus suburbs, poses for a portrait six months pregnant in the room where she and her husband live in Zarqa, Jordan, August 23, 2014. Bara’ah was married when she was fifteen, and is due to have her first child in November. While marriage under the age of eighteen was a common Syrian tradition before the start of the civil war, more and more Syrian girls are marrying at a younger age because of the insecurity of the war, because many families feel the girls in their family may be sexually harassed if they are not under the care of a husband, and because of prospect of alleviating the financial burden of one more mouth to feed. (Photo by Lynsey Addario/Getty Images Reportage)

At this point, I think child marriages needs no introduction. It is just a case where young innocent girls, leaders for the future, are given out to matured men to marry. I mean, who still does that? Ranking number ‘11’ is not really the reason for my anger but rather that it still happens in the country and we even made such a list.

They say poverty is the root of all evils. What else will let a father give out his little innocent daughter to a matured man? And who is that ignorant man that will still want a little girl. Many families are forced into this crazy dilemma because of lack of money but is it necessary? After all, the money will be spent for just a short time and it won’t even last till eternity. We all know how hard the country can be but it doesn’t get that bad. Please!

KWASSAW, NIGERIA – JUNE 15: Zainab Oussman, 16, in the village of Kwassaw, Nigeria on June 15, 2012. She was 14 when her family tried to marry her away. But she refused, and stayed in school. She’s now starring in a video that aid workers are using to convince villagers to stop marrying their women away at early marriages. Ousman is from the village of Kwassaw, south of the town of Maradi. Nearly 60% of all girls in Niger are married off before the age of 15, some as young as seven or eight. (Photo by Sudarsan Raghavan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Lets not pin down the causes to just poverty. It seems whenever enlightenment about child marriages are carried out, it doesn’t reach the right place. Looking at the age and era we are now, I would’ve argued that child marriages have been reduced to the barest minimum.

Its either the information is not getting where it should or people aren’t ready to be enlightened or they are not ready to take heed and do the right thing.

ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR – SEPTEMBER 24: 9-year-old Nalilala Andrianjato holding her nephew in her arms, poses in Antananarivo, Madagascar on September 24, 2017. In Madagascar most of the girls with no education marry early as the some others have to work in order to support their families.
(Photo by Ahmet Izgi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

I wonder I wonder o. Lets take it this way, someone comes to me to educate me about not giving my precious
daughter to an Old man and I’ll disagree? Will you disagree?

From the religious perspective, as far as I know, no holy book or religion said when you marry, it can be a small innocent girl. I mean, there has to be mutual understanding. I love you, you love me, yeah we can get married as long as we are both mature not just a one-sided thing. I don’t need to be a ritualist to know that it would also be an abomination from that end too.

Counselling activist Florence Uche Ignatius (R) poses with her 13-year-old daughter Ebube after a talk on HIV prevention, treatment and care, in Abuja, on April 26, 2012. Florence Ignatius who is living with the HIV virus walked out on her eight-year-old marriage 13 years ago as her husband refused to be tested to ascertain his status and to find out how she got infected with the virus. She got to know about her positive status from one of the tests conducted after she had attended a compulsory antenatal care for expectant mothers. “I had to walk out on the marriage as my husband refused to do a test to check his status to save my life”, she narrated. As luck smiled at her, she had her baby Ebube, a brilliant child now in a private school in Ibadan, southwestern Nigeria, but who unlike her mother is negative. Now the self-styled counselling and advocacy activist, Florence, who shared her experience with stakeholders involved in the campaign to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Abuja, wants to dedicate her life to getting to a zero rate for mother-to-child transmission of HIV: ‘I want to give my life serving’. Nigeria carries about one third of the global burden of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/GettyImages)

The results of child marriages are not far fetched but what are the solution? The following are drawn out solutions that can get this menace off our societies.

1. Educate the girl child. They need it as much as the boys do.

2. Let information circulate well. Enlightenment should cut across all areas. It seems to me like its not getting to where it should.

3. Empower the girl child. Develop empowerment programmes that would improve the girl child’s sense of self and also informing them about their rights and ability to refuse.

4. Poverty alleviation programmes. The parents need this a lot.

5. Be involved. It won’t stop until we individually interfere. Lets take this cases like ours and take Nigeria like our property and stop people from damaging its image.

6. Religious leaders should dive in. include it in your sermons and let it ring bells every time in their ears.

7. Laws should be made. It is very necessary in stopping it.

8. Bodies in charge should take responsibility. Acknowledge it is a bad thing and mistake on your part and make amends rather than deny any UN report that is released and call it misleading.

9. Advocate for women in public offices. It will give the parents reason to believe in the girl child.

10. NGO’s should double-up and people should give their supports to these organizations.

11. Sponsor a girl child. Wherever you are, there might be a little girl in need of help that you know the parent can’t afford. Offer help with the little you have in goodwill or get people who can help. Be a reason why a girl child does not have to go through such trauma.
Child marriages is a huge concern if it can still be happening now and if we don’t get rid of it now, we’ll be denting/salvaging the future and right of other young girls to live their life by the best means necessary. If the government won’t take action swiftly, lets start from somewhere. Lets save 11 with 11. Have a nice day!

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