How Farmers Married Out Daughters for Loan Repayment
Members of the Children’s Parliament have lamented that farmers in Yobe State are being forced to marry out under-age daughters to old men to pay back loans.
The members made this known yesterday in Abuja, during Girls’ Media Roundtable organised by Save the Children to commemorate the 10th anniversary of International Day of the Girl.
Speaking, a Girl Champion from Yobe State, Khadija Badamassi, said in the last 10 years, there had been increased attention on issues that matter to girls amongst government, policymakers and the public, and more opportunities for girls to have their voices heard at the global stage.
She noted that yet, investments in girls’ rights remain limited and girls continue to face many challenges to fulfilling their potential.
Badamassi noted that girls in her community face a lot when it comes to child early and forced marriage, saying child marriage has caused more harm than good.
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She explained: “Child marriage is the result of the interplay of economic and social forces. In communities where the practice is predominant, marrying a girl as a child is part of a cluster of social norms and attitudes that reflect the low value accorded to the human rights of girls.
“Yobe state, Nigeria, where I am from, due to its poverty has the largest number of child-brides in the north-east Nigeria. In my community, most people are farmers, and due to poverty; parents borrow money to cultivate their farms.
“During harvest, when the father is unable to back the loan, a father usually takes the decision to give out his daughter in marriage regardless of her age, and most times to an old man, old enough to be her father or grandfather. This girl bride is treated like a slave with no respect of any kind because of how she was taken in as wife.”
Badamassi added that a lot of girls that marry as children; end up dying during childbirth due to their bodies not prepared for delivery and pain they cannot bear, while a serious condition, known as obstetric fistula affects some others – a condition whereby the female child cannot control the passage of urine.
Also, a member representing Dikwa Constituency in Children’s Parliament and Chairman, Committee on Child’s Participation, Madina Abdulkadir said there was no greater pillar of stability than a strong, free and educated girl child, but there have been some limitations imposed on the investment on the rights of the girl child.
She noted that all over the world, their right to education, mental health, physical wellness and the protection needed for a life free from violence are being threatened.
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On her part, the Youth Ambassador, Marian Ahmed commended the government and organiSations like the Save the Children for working tirelessly over the years to ensure that the lives and rights of children, especially girls, are protected.
Ahmed pointed out that they know what the issues are and what was needed to eradicate them, but lamented that the major factors stopping the country from moving forward was lack of accountability and lack of implementation of laws.
She said, “An example is the Child Rights Act. It has been passed in four states so far, but not all those states are properly implementing the act. People do unimaginable things to children and girls and still get away with it.
“The first step that Nigeria should take is to prioritise the passage of the Child Rights Act into a national law. This is because the CRA is a comprehensive document that clearly identifies the rights of children and provides sanctions to anyone who compromises those rights.