Thursday, 13 December 2018

Nigeria: Close this marketplace of institutionalised paedophilia called child marriage

These were not sweethearts
The headline read, “Man, 70, marries 15-year-old sweetheart in Niger”, and this was accompanied by a photograph on Twitter, the news story has a few more photographs. [Daily Nigerian]
My first reaction to the story as opprobrium, abuse and obloquy was heaped on the man was the feeling why in these times we did not have a system to extricate girls from such inappropriate pairings and end this atrocity.
Everything is inappropriate with this match and to suggest they were sweethearts is contemptible in the extreme. A sweetheart is someone with whom one is in a romantic relationship. You would normally see sweetheart qualified with childhood, people of comparative ages in love. Where this is deployed elsewhere the expectation is both parties in that affair are both adults and have free agency.
Excused to afflict
Mr Yakubu Chanji apparently has a reputation of keeping a tally of four wives in his harem and has allegedly acquisition of close to 20 wives, the attrition rate being subjects of him being predeceased or his divorcing wives who have lost their novelty.
However, Mr Chanji, it appears can do no wrong as the report says, “He is a philanthropist in Kwangila area of Minna. He has contributed immensely to the community, especially the building of the community mosque.” For that, he appears to be excused to celebrate his proclivities and his propensities without sanction.
A girl of 15 has a life of her own, marriage is hardly one of the life decisions she should be involved in, she is a child, should still be in school, amongst her peers, daydreaming and imagining a life that is not limited to providing sexual satisfaction to a man old enough to be her grandfather.
Where is the girl’s identity?
Our world of humanity has been humanised and civilised over centuries, not to live beliefs in the times of their origins of a primordial world, but to have been adapted to the changes towards better respect and protection of rights and agency, and it makes this arrangement one of the worst expressions of our thriving humanity.
If the girl had any say in this matter, it would have been imposed upon her, all the pictures in which she appears with the man do not show a maiden with her lover on her happiest day, it appears she would rather be elsewhere. If indeed ‘family and friends were in attendance’, where are her friends? Where are her bridesmaids, her peers, the other girls she played with before she decided this is what she wanted for her life?
I see lots of old men and some women who are probably making up the numbers. There are no two words for celebrating a paedophile given the licence to violate a minor with the law seemingly incapacitated to act in the interest of the girl.
This picture is wrong, this practice is wrong and there is nothing to celebrate here than the shame and disgrace that this can be condoned, allowed, publicised and given the free rein to impunity it must never have in the 21st Century.
Divorce is just too cheap
How is it that in reporting about sweethearts, the man has all his names and sobriquets on show, but the girl is nameless, voiceless and soon to be invisible when she ends up in the paedophile’s lair until he either predeceases her or she is found to have outlived her usefulness and divorced?
Divorce itself is too easy, the man can extricate himself with literally no responsibility or liability, the woman he took off their trajectory of life and achievement left destitute and depending on alms. If only we had better divorce laws, ones that required divorce payments and alimony with the possibility of bankrupting the man if he found a penchant for divorce.
A woman who through a marriage has been dependent on her husband through marriage keeping the family home should by rights when divorced have the husband legally liable and enforced by law to make the provision to give the woman a sense of independence in means and ability. What has been truncated by marriage in the possibility of a career and some semblance of a fulfilling life must by restitution become a responsibility of her ex-husband until she can find her own two feet or becomes contracted into another marriage.
We have a long way to go in terms of the abuse of child marriage in the name of any persuasion, we must strive to end this market of institutionalised paedophilia pretending to a holy matrimony, which it is absolutely not.


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