Of Abduction And Forced Marriages | Independent Newspapers Limited
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 Of Abduction And Forced Marriages

Posted: Mar 29, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

In recent times, Nigeria has been witnessing increasing cases of abduction of under-age girls who are mostly forced into marriage and compelled to change their names and religion.

This bizarre act, to say the least, is condemnable because it contradicts every norm and tenet about marriage set by religions practised in the country and negates all values placed on the institution of marriage as claimed by leaders and practitioners of various religions.

Culturally, amongst all the ethnic groups in Nigeria, there are established convention and procedures for contracting marriages. These incidentally, are similar to practices upheld by the different religions in that the consent of the bride and groom, and in most cases, that of the parents on either side is required and a dowry paid at some point during the nuptial negotiations.

We believe it is an excellent development that people, especially parents of children who have been abducted under such adverse circumstances, are beginning to speak up because prior to the case of Ese Oruru, everything was hushed up, leaving the victims trapped like caged animals in a marriage that was based on deceit and very negative intentions.

It is only a man that is crass in his thinking that would live with a woman whom he knows he abducted, have sex with her, bears children and forces her to cook for him, aware that she is living in fear for her life every day.

The greater pity is the fact that in all the cases reported, the girls involved have had their education truncated and their ambitions of pursuing any particular career crumbled, illiteracy and poverty level increased, and the nation deprived of people who could have added significantly to lifting the economy.

With the calibre of people and institutions involved in abetting this rather heart-rending act, there must be a misconception that has allowed some very archaic culture, stemming from days of ignorance, to be woven into acceptability in the present day, while surreptitiously giving religious colourations to it.

We call upon the elite, leaders of thought and custodians of our traditional institutions to see marriage by coercion without the consent of a bride or her parents for the wickedness that it is. They should be in the vanguard advocating cultural change when the need is obvious because a people’s culture survives and is sustained forever, if the present continuously takes the future into consideration, remoulding the past for acceptance in the present with the future in mind. The beauty of tradition is when it is dynamic and able to sever actions that are no longer relevant or cause disaffection or pain.

We feel that society should stand against abduction for any purpose. Those involved in perpetrating this despicable act of abduction and coerced marriage in this present day and age should have a re-think because it is a sin to hold another person captive, not taking into consideration the emotions of both the captive and the relatives. Every person that has been held in marriage under such conditions should be set free irrespective of whether they are of age or not as the relationship cannot be called a marriage in the true sense from the beginning.

There are also so many traditions like female genital mutilation, discrimination against widows and so on that society is waging war against. This is another of such condemnable traditions that society must fight to a standstill.

We urge law enforcement agents to desist from giving cover to anyone found to have engaged in the abduction of girls for brides as this has helped to make many of such individuals audacious thereby allowing the act to spread because rather than be treated as the criminals they are, they have received pats on their backs.

No one, no matter how highly placed or lowly, prays to lose a child. It is even more painful when the whereabouts of the child is known but the law refuses to protect the aggrieved persons.

We implore our traditional rulers not to allow law breakers to drag their good names and exalted offices in the mud but rather see themselves as fathers to all no matter the origin and ensure that every one can feel comfortable and confident to run to them for redress if it is in their power to rectify a wrong done.