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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Girl Child

CHILD marriage is said to be a form of modern slavery of young and beautiful girls. Throughout the world, the problem of early, forced marriages of children is considered to be a violation of basic human right. It has been reported that 49 countries have a significant child bride problem. Breaking out of the tradition to marry young is difficult. And most of these young girls do not receive respect or support of their parents in saying no to early marriage. Imaging young girls who have dreamed of better things ahead of their future only for parents to give them out like a price of shit, just like that, without regard to what that child’s condition will be.

Child marriage is said to be a formed marriage or informed union before adulthood, while child bride is observed in both boys and girls, more especially the girls.

However, this is related to child betrothal and unmarried teenage pregnancy and in some cases only one partner is a child, usually the female, due to the importance placed upon female virginity.
Some reasons for giving out daughters may include poverty, bride price, and also laws that allow child marriage in some rural areas, as well as the fear of remaining unmarried (bachelorette) and perceived inability of women to work for money.

This act of slavery was common in the post civil era of human existence. Today, child marriages are fairly widespread in parts of the world, especially in Africa like South Asia, East Asia, West Asia, Latein America and Oceania. The five nations with the highest observed rates of child marriages in the world, below the age of 13 and 18, are Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh and Guinea. And also the top three nations with greater than 20% rates of child marriages below the age 15 are Niger, Bangladesh and Guinea. Most religions, over history influenced the marriageable age, for instance, Christians ecclesiastical law forbade marriage of a girl before the age of puberty. Hindu vedic scriptures mandated the age of a girls marriage to be adulthood which they defined as those years after the onset of puberty. Jewish scholars and rabbis discourages marriages before the onset of puberty. In contrast some Islamic marriage practices have permitted marriage of girls below the age of 10, because Sharia law is based on the past life and practices of Mohammed.

Moreso, child marriage practices have led young teens to their early graves before their speculated time, hereby endangering their lives maybe in bad health conditions, intimidation, domestic violence among fellow teens in their environment. Child marriage has long been in existence till this modern days when some laws give authentication and approval to certain laws which includes “Child marriage”.

Here in Nigeria, it is most especially common in the Northern part of Nigeria where young girls are betrothed to men of about 6 or 5 times their age as husbands who end up denying them rights to speech or freedom unless an intervention was made and they end up being mothers at a very tender age and lack normal educational experience they would have gotten at adulthood before marriage.

The early child marriage issue has led some young girls to misconception at child birth, because they are not yet able to give birth or conceive at such age, and also get more of domestic violence especially from the spouse, who gives them no chance or opportunity to speak or disobey some uncalled orders which he might impose on her as a result of her age and feels she has no right to freedom.

According to 2013, report on child marriage in Iran and Afghanistan many girls at the age of 12 and 13 have been given away at about 50% this year from almost all their local communities both in Iran and Afghanistan.

In Nigeria, the child rights Acts, passed in 2003, raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 for girls, and when issue of child bride was being discussed as a world topic or issue, some Nigerians still gave reasons why the minimum age rate should be from 13 years and above. Giving some ignorable reasons and facts which they seem to see as their culture, tradition and religion, not considering the fact that there are more to it than just getting married to a girl of 13 and having sex with her, making her your sex toy and then she looses her value and pride among fellow girls, she is been depressed with stunts of unbearable attitude or violence, might even bleed to death even after sex, with a man of about 60 years of age. This present generation where aged men think about themselves alone without looking at this little girls they buy in marriage from their parents maybe in exchange of a conflict resolution or debt and they feel happy and proud to do harm to these teens which some even at adulthood still find it hard to adapt to some activities or routine as a mother or women.

The reports indicate that a high prevalence of child bride still exists nationwide, 20% of girls were married at the of 15 and 40% were married by the age 18-22 virtually all these girls who got married at this tender age received little or no educational acquisition after being married to their spouse who might be a good example of domestic violence in the society and a tiger ready to tear because she has no rights anymore. First births have elevated risks, the youngest first time mother is vulnerable to poor health situations and outcomes that may follow suite because they are still to young to start giving birth unlike an adult who is married. Eighty four percent of first births of adolescent girls in Nigeria occur within married girls aged 15-19, 62 percent have already given birth, at least one out of four married girls gave birth before age 15-31.

Also some major causes of child marriage are poverty and pressure from social peers. This can lead to the early marriage of a young girl. If her parents are not able to train her, they tend to give their daughter out in marriage at this age.

Also when they have some financial difficulties which could cause conflict they tend to give their daughter out as settlement between the two parties. Some children who have been endangered with child marriage include “Ellen Tery” who was married at the age of 16 to “George Frederic Walts” who was 46 years old, as well as “Marie Adilaide of Savoy, RanaPrathap Kuman”, etc.

Child marriage also may depend upon socio-economic status. The aristocracy in some cultures as in the European feudal era tended to use child marriage as a method to secure political ties. Families were able to cement political and financial ties by having them marry these parties involved.

In 2013, Nigeria attempted to change to section 29 subsection 4 of its constitution and thereby prohibit child marriage. This was opposed by Islamic states in Nigeria, who called the attempt of changing that section of the constitution unlslamic.

Child marriage is a diversified topic in Nigeria and widely practiced in the northern part of Nigeria. In Christianity and Islam, it is practiced like 50% positive and 50% negative each, that is the Christians regard child marriage as forbidden and in Islam it is allowed. Predominantly in Nigeria today, among the Muslims, over 50% of the girls marry before the age of 15.

According to UNICEF “State of the Worlds children bride 2009 report 47% of Indian women age 20-24 were married before the legal age of 18, with 56% marrying before 18 in rural areas.
The exact number of child marriage in Pakistan below the age of 13
is unknown, but of recent update it is now from the ages of 8-13 years, exceeding 50% in northwest regions of Pakistan.

Nevertheless, there are lots of consequences attached and involved in the issue of child bride, but many parents seem not to see the dangers involved ahead, what will become of these girls, they tend to take the culture and religion to heart than their blood, children rather. The times in Africa where they seem to see the female child as not being important and thereby give them out at a very tender age, at time even before they are born. And with this belief that is as a result of ignorance to tend to give them away to men who would marry them and use as their sex toys or slaves. This diversify issue of child bride or marriage threatens the health and life of young girls, which involves complication from pregnancy and during child birth are the main cause of death among adolescent girls below 19 in developing countries, including Nigeria.

Young girls who are pregnant at the age of 13,15 and 16 might die during childbirth as those in their 20’s. teen pregnancy, particularly since below 15, increases risk of developing obstacle fistula, since their smaller pelvises make them prone to obstructed labour. Fistula leaves its victims with pains and causes life long complication and infection as well. In improveshid countries child marriage often ends a girls education.

Without education girls and adult women are not able to gain the opportunity of earning an income, financially to care for her and children. They also suffer from domestic violence from their spouse both sexually due to their poor educational status unlike educated adult women and they end up either beating them to death or sexually even embarrassing them outside.

Conclusively, the right of the women in our society should be obtained and fought for, major preventive measures, by promoting the empowerment of girls at risk of child marriage. Also providing good and affordable education and also other good morals and skills, supporting these young teens to become good activist for their rights as girls. Educating our parents who have no idea of education or civilization, to educate them on how such issues should be handled when any occur. And on the laws which can prohibit child bride or marriage and how the perpetrators would be brought to book. The legislative chambers should set a minimum age for marriage.
by Nwosuocha Joyce

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