The people of Ebenebe in Awka North LGA of Anambra State have been urged to work towards putting an end to child and forced marriages in the community.
The community, Blueprint learnt, was among those with prevalence of early child and forced marriage which they customarily call “Tum, Num” (you must marry me if you pregnant me).
The Executive Director, Women Information Network (WINET), a nongovernmental organisation, Mrs Miriam Menkiti, made the call at a Town hall meeting, the group held in the community which drew representatives of all the gender divides in the community.
Menkiti said her NGO had launched a campaign entitled the Right to be a girl solely to sensitise the community on the need to abolish the practice, as at it was variance with the provisions of Anambra State Child Rights Law 2006, and Child’s Rights Act of the federal government of Nigeria.
“WINET had earlier this year carried out sensitization dialogues with different segments of the community including the youths, the girls, the men and the women, where they all stressed their commitment towards ending teenage marriages. The practice of Tum, Num whereby some girls under eighteen years are given out in marriage or forced into marriage is prohibited by law,” she emphasised.
Represented at the town hall meeting by Mr Nnadozie Oshigbo, the WINET Executive Director explained that the project followed a baseline survey the NGO carried out in the community in 2016, after which a Spanish NGO, Mundo Cooperante consented to fund it.
Also speaking, a legal consultant to WINET and former Solicitor General of Anambra State, Barrister Mrs Tina Emekekwue, told the gathering that every child has rights and obligations under the constitution of Nigeria, especially under the Child Rights Law, such as right to education, freedom of association, right to private and family life, right to survival and development.
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Earlier, the President General of Ebenebe Town Union, Hon. Paul Nnatuanya, who was represented by the Secretary, Mr Charles Onyebuchi, appreciated WINET for the campaign and appealed to those at the meeting to spread the ‘good news’ across the nooks and crannies of the community.