Ring the Alarm!

“We women are going to bring change. We are speaking up for girls’ rights, but we must not behave like men, like they have done in the past.” - Malala Yousafzai

Nigeria holds position 13 in child marriages. As we know the victims of these unions are overwhelmingly female. 43 percent of girls are married before they turn 18. Let’s take a look at that: 18, before they are legally able to vote in Nigeria. Before the legal age of sexual consent in the USA is 18 years. Extremely premature if you consider frontal cortex of the brain (which controls the ability to reason) is not fully developed until about 25.

There are several reasons why child marriage is common and an acceptable practice. The number one cause being poverty. In impoverished nations, girl children are used to gain collateral and level up. Basically cast as a net and meant to bring in the highest bidder. With Nigeria in a state of political and civil unrest, many girls are also victimized and taken as wives never to be seen by their families again.

Source: Girls Not Brides

Another major reason that this is allowed to continue is because of the love of tradition. People feel that letting girls go to school instead of finding a marital home is upsetting the order of society. In actuality, allowing minors to forgo education to be married is not only detrimental to these girls but to society as well. The psychological effects suffered from sexual abuse in children manifests in a number of ways from lack of self esteem to anxiety, difficulty functioning sexually as adults, as well as self destructive behavior. These children are robbed of their fundamental rights to freedom, health, education and safety all for naught.Most of their families are likely to continue living in poverty. They are at great risk of having complicated pregnancies and childbirth. Higher rates of infant mortality, HIV/AIDS contraction and suffering domestic violence. Ultimately, “when a girl marries as a child, the health of her children suffer too.”

Source: Vheezy’s Pad

So how do we change the fate of the girl child?

Education is KEY! 82% of women who never received any formal education were married before turning 18. While the percentage drastically drops to 13% just by completing secondary school. This is why programs such as Michelle Obama’s recently discontinued, “Let Girls Learn” and “Girls Not Brides” are ESSENTIAL in our fight to free the child bride. By charging the nation to educate female children we empower these future women and greatly increase their options. By providing them with these options, there’s a reduction in child and maternal mortality, improvement of child nutrition and health, improvement of economic productivity and growth, protection of  girls from STI’s, abuse, and exploitation. We owe these girls a chance; to allow them their sanity + the freedom to grow and choose their own paths. Nigeria joined the African Union’s campaign to bring an end to child marriage in November 2016 collaborating with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development they are working to reduce child marriage by 40% by 2020 and completely abolish the practice by 2030. So I’m using this article as a call to action each reader get involved and liberate every girl they can.

girls not brides

Below is a list of organizations that are working to end child marriage in Nigeria:

by Ife James

Ivery Arie
Author: Ivery Arie

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