Stripping down on women and girls issues

MARYAM: Baba, I want to discuss something with you
BABA: what it is Maryam?

MARYAM (SHAKING WITH HER TINY VOICE): Baba I do not want to marry Garba. I do not love him besides I am just 10 years old Baba please i want to go to school like my friends. Please Baba doesn’t let me marry him.

The most prevalent gender based violence in the northern part of Nigeria are early and forced marriages, sexual assault and rape .At least 3 out of 10 women or girls have experienced this by age 15.Gender based violence comes in all manner from depriving women of economic empowerment, to domestic violence such as spousal intimate abuse or violence to rape and so on. The issue of early/forced marriage which includes forced sexual engagement and assault has become a part of us .This has indeed become so rampant in our society due to the presence of bandits, hood looms and the deadly emergence of boko haram in the northern part of Nigeria. The north is in crisis. Simply because our girls and women are in trouble. For the most part, our girls will become drop out, typically means that her education will take the back burner, obviously leading to poverty in their lives. Unwanted pregnancies at tender ages cripple their lives by subjecting them to become young mothers when she can barely take care of herself. Giving birth at a young age can lead to preterm labour labour and pre mature birth putting her at risk of vesico vaginal fistula and depression.

These issues can be arrested with members of the communities standing, and firmly united against early and forced marriages .The voices of the traditional holders is crucial in eliminating violence. They are the custodian of our values and their voices must be viable in crushing this menace. The traditional leaders play a vital role and must take up spaces to support and transform the belief of the people because they impact values through August 2020 EU-UN Spotlight Initiative hosted a virtual round table conference with Traditional and religious leaders on Enhancing Community Surveillance to End violence against women and girls. They believe that the utmost engagement of the traditional and religious leaders holds a key, if not a dynamic means of ending violence against women and girls. With the adoption of the child’s right in Nigeria in 2003 which seeks to domesticate the convention on the rights of the child, only sees the light of the day if the state’s assembly takes effect even though it was approved and passed at the federal level. This means that child marriage can take place in states that haven’t passed the law at their state’s assembly. It’s horrendous to think 48%of hausa-fulani girls are married by age remains acceptable for young girls to be given out in marriage as one less mouth to feed. The act of child marriage in the northern part of Nigeria remains heavily supported by the influenced of Islam.

In Islam ,the purpose of marriage remains to create a successful union, creating tranquillity and the preservation of mankind and most of all providing physical and emotional fulfilment but only on the condition that it is a mutually legal agreement between both parties .Other conditions are stated briefly as mutual attraction and compatibility, physical maturity and post puberty. The bound importance of consent cannot be overemphasised in the Quran and other Islamic texts. The Quran states that ‘it is unlawful for you to inherit women by force’. The prophet (peace be upon him) said the consent of a bride is indeed a prerequisite and of paramount importance to the validity of the marital contract. The Quran states the minimum criteria for those entering into marriage to be of sound maturity and have reached puberty. How then did we come about forced and early marriage?
The issue of early and forced marriage is a cultural practice which has hindered many obstacles in the lives of our young girls. Who are vulnerable to rape, sexual assault, early child birth, prone and open to deadly diseases, poverty, trafficking and so many social ills we cannot stop rolling out our voices in the fights against early and forced marriage. A stand and sit against aggressive measurement to curb this social menace. The consequences of early /child marriage are grievous for girls due to their health and educational fulfilment. They face a total dark off to depression, diseases and isolation .Therefore, a joint effort or an aggressive involvement of the media, a stance implementation of laws, civil organisation must be erected.

Maryam Husain MaiBasira studied at the London Academic Business School Stratford, United kingdom and a Gender and Human with The Federation of International Gender and Advocate and Fellow human Rights (FIGHR) New York, and currently running a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies at the University of Abuja.

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