Day Of African Child: Underage Marriage In Yobe | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Day Of African Child: Underage Marriage In Yobe

Posted: Jun 19, 2015 at 6:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Mohammed Abubakar  –  Damaturu


As usual, June 16, 2015 is yet another Day of the African Child (DAC). The theme for this year’s DAC is, ‘25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa’. 

This year’s event is special because it is the 25th since the OAU, now AU, adopted the African Children’s Charter.

It is on record that June 16 every year, the African Union and its partners celebrate the Day of the African Child in commemoration of the 1976 protests by school children in Soweto, South Africa.

A group of some early married girls with their children on donkeys migrating to a neighbouring community in the North East.

A group of some early married girls with their children on donkeys migrating to a neighbouring community in the North East.

The students protested against an education designed to further the purposes of the apartheid regime. The brutal response of the apartheid security agencies to the unarmed students’ protests resulted in the death of a number of them. The 1976 protests contributed greatly to the eventual collapse of the apartheid regime. In 1991, the African Union Assembly therefore passed a resolution designating June 16 as a day for the celebration of the African child.

The DAC presents an opportunity for the media and all stakeholders on children’s rights, including government, non-governmental and international entities, to reflect on issues affecting children in the region.

The DAC is an opportune moment to take stock of the progress made and the outstanding challenges towards the full realisation of the rights of children in the region.

The Child Marriage Coalition came into being in November 2014 in response to the emerging development concerns about children experiencing adverse human rights and development deprivation as a result of child, early or forced marriage. The increasing prevalence of the child marriage practice in Bauchi by the current Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS4) has 48 per cent of children given out in marriage before their 15th birthday.

UNICEF D-Field, Bauchi Communications Officer (Media and External Relations), Samuel Kaalu, in a statement in Damaturu said the main objectives of child marriage include: to provide a steering coordination forum for activities aimed at promoting empowerment programmes, delayed age of marriage and support services for children already in marriages, to develop community sensitive and child friendly strategies to prevent child/forced marriages in families and communities, to serve and identify individuals, gate keepers to serve as role models for positive parenting and advocates for completion of secondary education by girls before marriage.

Others, according to him, are to serve as think-thank to steer quality and innovative programmes aimed at changing attitudes of families, to enable coalition conduct advocacy when necessary to influence behaviour or policies that address child marriage and school-dropout, to plot convergence for an efficient and effective utilisation of human and financial resources to ensure good overlap and minimise duplication of efforts.

Mrs. Maryam Uwais in her paper titled, ‘Child Marriage and Development Challenges for the Girl Child’, said child marriage has critical negative implications for human capital development as well as growth, intra household bargaining power and access to resources.

“More than 60 million girls under the age of 18 are married, many to men twice their age or older; if child marriage continues at its current rate, an additional 100 million girls in developing countries will be married within the next decade, that is 24,000 new child brides every single day for the next 10 years”.

She further revealed that “Nigeria has 40 per cent of global child marriages. 76 per cent of adolescent girls are in marriages in the North-West, 68 per cent in the North-East and 35 per cent in the North-Central (DHS 2008), incidentally where poverty is highest in Nigeria. (South-South 18 per cent, South-West 17 per cent and 10 per cent South-East).”

According to her, over half of all women in the North East and North West are married off before the age of 16 and expected to bear children within the first year of marriage.

“The children of educated mothers are 50 per cent more likely to survive past the age of 5 years; and educated mothers are also more likely to send their own children to school, only 40 per cent of females complete secondary school in Northern Nigeria, 78.8 per cent of women in the North-West are unable to read and write, 42.1 million Nigerian children eligible for primary school but only 23.3 million are in school, 33.9 million adolescent are eligible for secondary school but only 6.4 million are in school.”

Yobe State is not exceptional in cases of child marriage and those forcefully being abducted and married by the insurgents are in Gujba and Gulani Local Government areas.