- Condemns girl-child marriage
By Martins Ifijeh
A human and health rights lawyer and an ambassador of Women Deliver, an international non governmental organisation, targeting the health of women and children, Miss FisayoAransiola, has revealed that about 19.9 million women in the country have so far been mutilated in the name of female circumcision.
She said despite the passage of the law criminalising the act in the country, it was still a thriving business, which has caused both psychological torture and pain for millions of women who have undergone the act in various regions of the country.
Speaking at the National Summit on Accountability for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH), held in Abuja recently, she maintained that no one has the right to mutilate young children, as the tradition was harmful in many ways, including medically and psychologically.
She gave a description of how a man called her and narrated how he, in collaboration with his wife mutilated their three children, thinking female circumcision was a gift they owe their female children. “I explained to him that now that he is aware that it is wrong, he should as well help in campaigning against it within his family and neighbours. I wonder the pain and torture those children must have gone through,” she explained.
On her part, another ambassador of Women Deliver, MissAkunna Onyeka expressed fear over increase of child marriage in the country, in addition to other medically unfit practise which the family and the society subject the girl-child to.
“Apart from FGM, another practise that gives cause for concern is the issue of child marriage. This exposes our children to vessico-vagina fistula and other related diseases. Apart from the health implications, this negatively affects the way the girl-child can add value to the society. This means she would stop schooling, as well as put her career to an abrupt stop,” she added.
According to her, one of the drivers of child marriage is poverty. “A lot of people believe they can transfer their burdens to their in-laws, hence they give their girl-child out, and in return get gifts from the said in-laws, at the expense of the young girl.
Lending her voice, Aransiola said people must not hide under religion to commit crime, as child marriage was a crime to the country. “The constitution says 18 years makes you an adult, but the same constitution says once you are married you are deemed an adult. This gets me thinking, does it mean we are giving credence to child marriage. Does it mean children who are given out for marriage are no longer children?,” she queried.
She also called for parents and guardians to take development of their girl-child seriously, as they also deserve to be at the peak of their future dreams. “Let’s help the girl-child, not destroy their dreams,” she stressed.