Francis Sardauna in Katsina
Girls in Katsina State yesterday admonished the state government to sponsor an early marriage prohibition bill to stop parents from marrying out their young daughters.
They also called for the protection of girl-child against rape, forced marriage, child labour and other forms of child molestation bedeviling children in the state and the country as a whole.
The girls made the call at an event organised by Netherlands Embassy through Save the Children International (SCI) to commemorate the 2019 International Day of the Girl Child, held at Government Girls Secondary School Kofar Yandaka.
One of the girls from Sabon Gari, a village in Rimi Local Government Area, Safara’u Abdullahi could not controlled her emotions after narrating her ordeal, saying the bill became necessary for the girls to have equal opportunity to acquire western education.
Safara’u, a beneficiary of SCI Safe Space programme, said: “We are three in our family. My parents withdrew my two elder sisters from primary school and married them out at younger age.
“They also insisted that I should stop going to school and marry. But with the introduction of Safe Space programme in our village and the knowledge I acquired, I told them I cannot marry at early age because of it consequences”.
“I reported the matter to our facilitator and she went and met my father, after several appeals he agreed that I should continue with the study, but said he will not buy any instructional material for me,” Safara’u explained.
Another beneficiary of the programme from Sandamu Local Government Area, Fatima Ado said the prohibition bill if assented into would stop their parents from marrying them out at least until after completing their secondary education.
In his remarks, the SCI Communication and Advocacy Officer, Mr. Effiong Akpan urged the state government to ensure speedy passage of the Child’s Right Act (CRA) into law to tackle the alarming rate of child abuses in the state.
He explained that the CRA if pass into law by the state government, would help relevant authorities to penalize parents who withdrew their children, particularly girls from school for marriage.
Akpan equally called on government to encourage the enrolment of girls in school and full implementation of the 2004 Universal Basic Education Act to ensure the sustainability of girl-child education in the country.
While canvassing support for training of more female teachers in teacher training institutions across the state, Akpan said continues engagement of traditional and religious leaders on the importance of girl-child education would stop child marriage.
On her part, the Assistant Director, Women Development, Katsina State Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Halima Dankani admitted that Nigerian girls were facing abuses ranging from child labour, forced marriage, rape and Vesicovaginal Fistula, VVF, due to early marriage.