Guest Post by Nwokorie Jennifer
Child Marriage is wrong; there is no other way to say this for it to sound better to the ears. Giving out a girl child or even the boy child out at a tender age of 8-17, or against their will is detrimental to not just the future of the girl, but also to the future of the country. There is nothing glorifying about the practice, it is basically just about men who prefer to sleep with children, how do you as a mother sleep comfortably at night knowing your kid is being sexually mounted by a man old enough to father her, how do you live with yourself. Irrespective of the situation you find yourself in, sellout your child shouldn’t be an option. And the men, those perpetrating, and those thinking of indulging in this, please, we are humans, all of us, and as human, there are stages and time for everything in life, do not deprive a young girl the satisfaction and positive memories obtainable in her childhood, do not obstruct the growth and its process of a young child.
My awareness of child marriage didn’t particularly start or begin at any given time. As a child, I grew up acknowledging and understanding the existence and possibility of the practice. I had friends who were little girls, my age, and were married to men old enough to be their fathers. It wasn’t something I grew up to suddenly pinpoint, but what I grew up with as I said. For some culture or tribe in my country, it is something acceptable and legal, especially with their religion backing them, it’s an everyday occurrence. Even the Nigerian government has not set a minimum age limit for marriage, thus legalizing child marriage. Sometimes, these girls are from birth given out to men who will be their husbands when they come of age, say 8 or 10 or 15, depending on the decision of the said husband.
There are certain practices that are wrong, that are inhumane to even consider, but in the long run, these practices ironically have more benefits than negative effects, but child marriage has nothing of such. For the parents, it could have its rewards, but for the girl child, there are no rewards, it is limiting; the child has from that moment has been limited. Things like creativity have been impounded upon and she can only get creative within the bounds of the certain mentality and institution in which she finds herself. Other than the limitations, things like normal childlike growth is canceled for her, where her mates would think of how long they can stay out playing or beat her classmates at a school assignment given, she would instead consider what the husband would want to eat for the night or how painful the sexual intercourse for the night would be, it is disheartening knowing this. There are no rewards to it.
Considering how acceptable and normal the practice has been made to look like, many Nigerian women feel they have nothing to offer to the society except being a wife for a man. They feel they are in some kind of way lesser beings to the men, seeing as they can be given away so easily without care for maybe a piece of cloth or constant feeding. Many of these men even now consider women to be beneath them, they see them as nothing but properties, things to be owned for their pleasure or whatever they choose her to be or represent for them.
As I shared before, the practice has either directly or indirectly affected the Nigerian woman, the way many see themselves. For me, it is the pain, anger, and helplessness that follows when a feels the need to view me as an object first or as unimportant before I am even allowed to say otherwise. The withdrawal from life, the death of the light that had once shown so brightly in the eyes of these girls who happen to be friends, the pain at being able to do nothing, these have scarred me for life, I may not be the one living with the man, but I feel the empathic pain of it all.
Is the government doing anything to stop the practice? I sincerely doubt that reason being, many of the perpetrators are men in government. Instead, nongovernmental organizations, child rights, and human rights care have also helped in a way to sensitize many, but this can o amount to a few changes if the government isn’t adding any serious and legal punishment to the practice.
One way child marriages can be aborted in Nigeria is to scrap outlaws pertaining to it, religious or otherwise. To also ensure that anybody caught perpetrating the act is punished by the law, no matter who such a person is or his standing the society.
I’ve never stopped speaking up and giving sensitizations, seeing that is all we can do, thankfully, the internet is a place to share our messages. About resistance, there certainly are resistances, you hear things like “You talk too much” or “Face your own problems, the girl is in a better place or is happy” or “Someday you’ll be taught to shut your mouth”. How do you convince a mother or family that is poor (three square meal a day kind of poor) to not give out their daughter to a man rich enough to feed an entire village, that in itself is another resistance, seeing as you offering an objection the union almost isn’t any better, financially.
Joining organizations who share the same values to push the movement ahead, using my social media accounts to do justice to what needs to be done. Speaking my mind and speaking up at opportune times.
Nigerian mothers need to play an active role in this, they can choose to just not give up their children. Those mothers can fight harder to keep their children from such fate, but most importantly, the Nigerian mother should be enlightened, equipped and empowered because ignorance truly is a disease, and poverty of mind and body is the worst disease ever.
About the Author
My name is Nwokorie Nneka Jennifer, a 25-year-old single Christian (feminist) writer, poetess, and a blogger. I am a firm believer of allowing people the opportunity to make choices for themselves, irrespective of gender. Seeing the world from my perspective might be a complicated and unconventional strain, but not seeing it from my perspective is an unjust endeavor to us human and women.
Stop Child Marriage, lets grow in the pace of nature.