Say Olori

…You know you want to

#ChildNotBride…. *yimu*

silhouette-of-a-girl-joana-kruse

Pardon my use of Pidgin English in the title. I just had to register my true feelings as early as possible .

In the wake of the #ChildNotBride campaign set up against the child marriage bill (a.k.a weapon of mass destruction) that the Nigerian Senate is brandishing, someone has to get up and say a little about our hypocrisy as a people and how much more we need to do to safeguard the interests of these young girls being put at risk.

I don’t want the bill to be passed into law. It would break my heart to see a day when girls as young as Nine (9) years old can be married off to men (full grown men!) or even boys. I believe that girls should be given an education; be allowed to grow up; decide on a career path and a man after their own heart and then make a willful and conscious decision to marry. It would be most unnatural to subject little girls to the daily reality of marriage when they don’t even understand their own bodies yet, not to talk of that of their new ‘husbands’.

Without such a destructive law being in force, many young girls are already being subjected to deadly unions with men old enough to be their grand-daddies. I strongly believe that such men are driven by certain paedophiliac forces of darkness but that’s a story for another day.

Now to the issue of our hypocrisy;

I was driving home yesterday and I branched off the main road to avoid the traffic ahead. I knew the road was bad on my detour but I just wanted to avoid the queue at the round-about by all means. So, there I was, driving through a long stretch of terribly bumpy road and as ‘luck’ would have it, two motorists in front decided that they would not be patient and go one at a time so they blocked the road and in the usual manner of Lagos traffic, they started to cuss each other out.

By this time, I resigned to fate and set my gear on neutral. That was when I noticed a young girl by the side of the road. She wore a hijab and looked no more than 14 years old. Close to her legs was a tray of wares she might have been hawking before deciding to take a break. A youngish looking Fulani man stood next to her with both hands in the pockets of his threadbare trousers. He was smiling and whispering close to her. She had her back slightly turned to him and she smiled shyly and looked at him from the corner of her eyes. My head grew hot and I wanted to grab my court shoes and break up that party.

All I could imagine was him cajoling her over a couple of days and finally having his way with her. I imagined her getting pregnant for that young man who I’m sure, like most of the Hausa/Fulani men in my area is homeless and struggling. I imagined the negative impact that an amorous relationship at this age could have on her future and I imagined her having to suffer the pains of pregnancy and child bearing at such a young age. I wanted so much to help her. I wanted to scream what horrible premonition I had of the outcome of their conversation but I just sat there, helpless and sad, praying silently in my heart that she wouldn’t listen to whatever perversity he was whispering in her ear.

The traffic cleared ahead so I set my gear back to drive and literally moved on with my life, possibly never to see that young girl again.

Child, not bride; yes, I agree. But, look around you…is it just the child brides that are suffering sexual abuse, under-aged pregnancy and prostitution in Nigeria? What have you done to protect the unmarried young girls within your reach from harm’s way?

What did you do to protect your 12 year old maid when you found out that your driver did nasty things to/with her in his room whenever you sent her to give him food?

What did you do to help your landlord’s teenage daughter when you noticed that the bachelor next door was always asking her to come inside his room after running errands for him?

What did you do when your little sister came home from school and told you the ‘uncle’ next door said she has a nice bottom?

Did you report to the authorities when you found out that ‘Madam Dollar’ near your house keeps a house full of teenage prostitutes?

What did you do when you came home that afternoon and heard Ada screaming ‘daddy stop’, yet again? 

I could go on and on but I‘ll stop with the examples in the hope that you get the picture. My point here is that we cannot go up in arms against this preposterous bill while we ignore the young girls around us who could have been saved from rape, venereal diseases, under-aged pregnancies, sex trafficking and many other evils if we had spoken up and gone up in arms against their attackers or handlers. If we must fight this, we have to fight it everywhere we see it.

Take a stand today. Stand up for the vulnerable young girls around you. Don’t wait till it happens to your own child or relative. If everyone puts in a little effort, we can save one girl at a time. We can empower young girls to know what is right for them and fight for it rather than succumb so easily to the predators in their lives.

Don’t just scream the #ChildNotBride mantra. Be the voice of the girl next door who has fought so hard and can no longer defend herself. Even if by some unfortunate stroke of luck, this bill succeeds, I know millions of Nigerians will still not subscribe to it but many unmarried young girls will continue to suffer sexual abuse if we don’t change out attitude.

Developing a culture of defending and protecting the girls within our reach is the cake while getting this new bill thrown out will be the icing. Icing definitely makes more delicious sense when we have cake to eat it with.

Photo: wwwfineartamericacom

15 comments on “#ChildNotBride…. *yimu*

  1. deolu
    July 23, 2013

    Simple truth!God bless you.

  2. Munwa
    July 23, 2013

    you try…word! Get to work too.

  3. FILIPZbaba
    July 24, 2013

    nice write up, but really and personally, I think the writer is getting it all mixed up here. there’s an absolute diff btw getting a girl’s consent and the child not bride campaign…like u said in ur write up, d gal was looking at d guy frm d corner of her eyes meaning she had a form of interest in him, re u den saying bcos d guy is homeless and poor he cant find love? are u saying its only those that have homes dat shud b loved, den i’ll ve 2ask u aw many nigerians do u tink will fall outside dis category (wif d situation dis country finds itsef). dat aside, basically wot d child no bride rally is all about is 4d children who cant mak up deir minds, 4dose who will b forced in2 marriage outside deir own will, 4dose dat dnt yet no d meaning of looking @ a guy wif d corner of deir eyes. Its not 4dose dat re happy doin it (meaning dey already know d sweetness), its not 4dose dat get in2 it consensually. come to tink of it, if we fight 4dat gal u saw, re we not automatically fighting for the runs babes 2?
    above all, ur message was well passed…kip up d gud work.

    • Olori
      July 24, 2013

      I am very excited that you shared your point of view and I thank you so much for your kind words but I have to say however that you might have misunderstood me. As I said in the body of the post, I do not support the bill. I think it’s preposterous. But I also do not like when good people sit back and do nothing about the girls around them who are being abused and the ones who from a young age have been introduced to a destructive lifestyle. Whether or not they consent eventually is not the point. The fact that they are very young and thus incapable of making a well-thought-out decision to engage in sexual relations is my grouse. Save the ones who are forced into it and help retrieve the ones who have succumbed.

    • Olori
      July 24, 2013

      …And about letting the homeless also find love…C’mon! Seriously? I’m sure you know that’s not the point. 🙂

  4. deolu
    July 24, 2013

    Looking frm the corner of her eyes could also be fear,not necessarily consent.You never can tell what the girl has been going through,He might have done so much to her that she finally agreed to succumb.The point is we need to wake up to the anomalies around us.They are staring at us already and set to take over.Well done guys.

  5. Tunde
    July 24, 2013

    A law that purports to abolish a religious or cultural practice must be construed with caution. Western civilization has a high career expectation from both the female and the male child. But in some civilizations there is little career expectation for the female child. The question is: at what point did we become the supreme court for all cultures? We can only appeal to the custodians of culture s to evolve thier values towards natural justice, equity and good conscience. In the context of universal basic education and the right of a child thereto, the concievable age of marriage cannot be ealier than 15. Govt can set further barriers on need for vocation and health clearance. All these can take another 2 years. Marriage rites itself may not start ealier than 17 given the conditions that can be suppuorted by existing human right law. For parents intending to train their children to graduate level the bar moves few notches higher. In short, the real calamity is not the proposed amendment but the perverts who daily abuse vulnerable children. The childnotbride campaign therefore is honestly subjective. I am persuaded by the writer’s submission.

    • Olori
      July 25, 2013

      Absolutely brilliant point of view! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Tunde
    July 24, 2013

    Marriage education must also start early. Let every child know that she has a right to say NO. That she has a right to protective custody. Thers is a need to let parents know that forced marriage is a criminal violation of human right and it is equal to slavery. The economic conditions that are usually cited must be addressed.

  7. Munwa
    July 27, 2013

    Na wa, all these big big grammar sef. hian.

  8. Shola Olawumi
    July 28, 2013

    I wish u guys wld read d article written by Mariam Uwais on dis matter, then u wld knw dt its d poor dt suffers dis fate of early marriage. Wen av u heard dt one rich n educated northerner gave out his child of even 14 yrs out in marriage? Its always d poor man. If we all took d bull by d horn jst as d writer suggested, den I dont think d issue of #childnotbride# wld av arisen. Nice one Olori…

    • Olori
      July 29, 2013

      May God help us to fully eradicate poverty. Thank you Shola.

  9. opinion
    August 2, 2013

    This may be off point or even trivial but we don’t have billions of Nigerians. 😁
    On a serious note, the argument by some that the religion that (supposedly) approves child bride stipulates that the consent of a child bride must be obtained is disturbing. Can a little girl practically go against the will of her parents in this Africa? Does it work that way? Can she even be trusted to know what’s best for her at that age? There are many teenage brides that regretted either the marriage itself or their poor choice in partner.
    By the way, in many religions and cultures, children are supposed to be absolutely obedient to their parents so where’s the room for refusal when the parents have decided to give her out in marriage?
    I feel that 1) some parents are using this loophole (in the absence of a more appropriate word) to unburden themselves of their responsibility to train their offspring 2) some adult perverts are using this loophole (still in the absence of a more appropriate word) to get what they want.
    And that’s my opinion. You are welcome to adopt it as your own opinion. 😁

    • Olori
      August 2, 2013

      Interesting opinion there, Opinion; and I quite agree with you.
      Plus, I have noted your observation about ‘billions of Nigerians’ lol. *covers face*

  10. Tunde
    August 10, 2013

    It is all about context. In Southern Nigeria, you cannot think about marriage without education of an economic sort. But up North, YES, YOU CAN. The truth is: what else is there for a class that the society neglects at its own peril? I really do not think that a childbride in such circumstance might grow to regret the choice made for her by her parents. She is more likely to blame the system that essentially denied her the opportunities that were available to others. That she will ever come to this realization is even debateable. Most likely, her regret could be whom she got married to and not when she was given in marriage. This manner of regret is anything but peculiar to those for whom marriage choices were made. Bottomline: society at large must empower the girl child with the tools she needs to support herself.

Waiting to read your thoughts on this. xoxo

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2013 by in Society and tagged , , , .
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