Marriage By Abduction: Any Hope For The Girl-Child? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Marriage By Abduction: Any Hope For The Girl-Child?

Posted: Mar 5, 2016 at 6:03 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Anthonia Duru, Lagos.

Few days back, news portals were agog with the abduction of Ese Oruru from Bayelsa by one Yinusa aka ‘Yellow’ to Kano. There was general outburst as many people condemned the act as barbaric and a violation of the universal human rights of choice and freedom as declared by the United Nations.

The young Ese is just one out of the many young girls being forced into early marital relationships in the country.

Ese Oruru was 13 when she was taken away from her parental home in August 2015 to Kano where she was forced into Islam preparatory to her being “married off” to her kidnapper, Yunusa.

She was allegedly kept in the palace of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. The Emir claimed that Ese was brought to his palace by the District Head of Kura last year. Apparently, Yunusa had approached the District Head to wed him and Ese who was defiled and renamed “Aisha Chuwas.” This is pure child abuse and molestation.

In 2014, the case of one Wasila Umar, a 14-year-old child bride, made news when she killed her husband and four of his friends through food poisoning 17 days after marriage. She alleged being forced to marry a man she did not love and didn’t want to have any relationship with.

Charity Uzoechina, daughter of a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, was similarly abducted two years ago from her school, Federal Poly Bida in Minna State, and taken to the palace of the emir (Etsu Nupe). She was Islamised and kept away from her family. We were also told she was “happy” to be a Muslim. Till date, she remains in captivity. No one has rescued or returned her to her family.

Though this is not the first time a girl-child will be abducted for the purpose of marriage in the North, cases abound and there seem not to be an end in sight to this barbaric inhumanity to girl-child in the North.

The development is now coming down south, which leaves many observers wondering why the sudden interest in Christian girls in the southern states. Some have argued that it is one of the agenda to entrench Islam in Nigeria, while others say it has nothing to do with religion but the handiwork of psychopaths and pedophiles who are taking advantage of a culture which allows child marriage to fulfill their yearnings by force.

Marriage by adoption is purely a violation of the right of the girl.

“No girl should be robbed of her childhood, her education, health, and her aspirations,” said an observer.

Child marriage is indeed a violation of the rights of girl-child as it effectively ends her education and opportunity to gain vocational and life skills. It also exposes her to the risks of early pregnancy and its attendant health implications of Vesicle Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and HIV infection. In effect the girl child faces early child bearing and motherhood before she is physically and psychologically ready.

The right to ‘free and full’ consent to a marriage is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Both prohibit child marriage.

Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), governments are committed to ensure the overall protection of children and young people aged under 18. Child marriage, and its range of rights implications, has substantially infringed the protection. While Islam encourages child marriage, Islam does not encourage marriage by abduction or by forced. Though the abductor, Yinusa is already facing criminal charges, experts are of the opinion that he should be treated like a criminal to serve as a deterrent to others.

Specifically, Sharia Law supports child marriage but Nigeria’s civil law which perhaps should be the greatest and most binding law of the land forbids and frowns at child marriage in its entirety.

For the record Quran 4:19 states; “Believers, it is not lawful for you to inherit women against their will…… Do not create difficulties for your wives in order to force them to give-up part of what you had given to them to set themselves free from the bond of marriage, unless they have clearly committed adultery. Always treat them reasonably. If you dislike them, you could be disliking that which God has filled with abundant good.”

According to Nojeem Fgbemi an Islam cleric in Lagos, Islam only permits marriage endorsed by mutual consent of both parties, in fact that is the first cardinal rule of Nikah (Islamic marriage). The second factor is consent of both parents or guardian of the child. This however points that without these two factors, no marriage is valid in Islam without these factors.

“A Woman has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals. Her consent is a prerequisite to the validity of the marital contract, according to the Prophet’s teaching. It follows that if an arranged marriage means the marrying of a female without her consent, then such a marriage may be annulled if the female so wishes,” Fagbemi told our reporter in a telephone conversation on Thursday.

Is Nigeria still a civil society? If yes why do we have many not subjecting to that civil law?

Glory Omokaro, a Zamfara State resident, says Ese was lucky to have been rescued as the practice has been in existence in Nigeria for years, that traditional leaders and government officials look the other way whenever it happens.

“This happens so often, girls are forcefully abducted, converted, taken to local emirs, and are permanently separated from their loved ones who cannot turn to anyone for help. Social media is only amplifying the realities that have always existed. The amount of injustice that goes unnoticed in Nigeria is disheartening,” she said, adding that it has become a crime to be poor, to be a minority and to be female.

“What Boko Haram did with the Chibok girls, abducting and forcefully converting them, is a practice that is popular and indirectly supported by the so called elites in the North. Northerners now have their own rules irrespective of the Nigerian constitution,” she added.

She felt dismayed that the Emir of Kano dilly dallied on whether to release the girl or not. For her that was ridiculous.

For Udom Micheal, absurdity exists in different parts of the country and should not be seen as northern or religious thing. Rather it is a result of a culture of bad education.

“Even many of the schooled people are in fact illiterates. Many who claim to know the Bible or Quran don’t know jack!” he pointed out.

Shakirat Isa, a Borno state-based activist noted in an online conversation with Independent that the sanctity of human life is non-negotiable and the innocence of a child must not be tampered with.

“This is a clear case of Kidnap, rape, defilement and enslavement. All the culprits starting from the man that ran away to Kano, the man that gave permission, the Emir of Kano and all others that conspired in this atrocity should be charged to court. This is a crime against humanity. They should be severely punished to serve as a deterrent to others. Religion does not have anything to do with this crime,” she said.

She added: “Yes, it’s one case out of many but hopefully if this one is taken to a proper conclusion it will help to deter other pedophiles. We can’t continue to let our young girls be abducted, raped and treated like property by these sick monsters. I can’t even imagine the ordeal of this child and her family. I am more worried on what inspired Yinusa to kidnap a 13 yr old, because same mandate of piety is still influencing more like him.”

 

Princess Ngozi Oluwagbemiga, President/Co-ordinator of Charity Mission Empowerment Foundation (CMEF) added her voice: “The problem of girls running away with guys is a foundational error from the home, which may not stop because parents are not on ground to monitor and mentor their children. Another problem is that the devil is using economical instability to fight us and our children. We tend to give excuses of work and tight schedules for not being available for our family. I work as a missionary but I ensure I balance things and do not neglect my home; I make sure my impact in the home front is felt.

I always tell parents that they have roles to play in the lives of their children and those living with them.  Parenting can be described as banking or farming what you sow is what you will reap.  If you are to be a parent then you have to know God which will make you to start speaking to your child from the womb.

The remedy to this kind of problem is that we need to go back to the drawing board and return back to God. I encourage parents to take good care of their family. I advise them to monitor their children, be available to give them parental mentoring and always pray for them.”

Baring her mind on the issue, Doris Yero, CEO, Gabassawa, an organisation that champions education in the North said: “ Except we want to call a spade another name, this practice has been in existence long before even my great grandparents were born. Our leaders are not helping matters in this regards for reasons best known to them which includes cultural and traditional beliefs. Ese is just lucky, there are countless girls in her shoes.  Victims and their relatives don’t speak out because they themselves think that should be the norm. I think it is high time we speak out at this era of social media, everybody now has a voice. The only way we can defeat this trend is if we speak out and government on their part punish perpetrators and their accomplices because abduction under whatever means is a criminal offence in Nigeria.

I don’t think there is anything spectacular about the development coming down south, it is the same way they get attracted to girls in the North. It is just a matter of who was available at a particular point in time”

Meanwhile, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State Governor has reacted to the abduction of Ese, an indigene of Delta. In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, Governor Okowa said: “The action is an-unheard-of incident in the state; given the age of the girl and the lack of consent by her parents”.
“Not until yesterday (Monday), I did not hear of this saga; not even the fact that the girl is an indigene of Delta state.
“I am very much interested in this case and I want the police to take it to its logical conclusion, nothing short of diligent prosecution of the abductors would be satisfactory.”

Some other observers are also calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to send a bill to National Assembly to abolish Sharia in Nigeria or use any other mechanisms available to him to stop this Sharia law in Nigeria since Nigeria is neither an Islamic nor a Christian state.

With Ese’s rescue, one hopes that other female victims regardless of their ethnicity and religion are rescued from their abductors, and laws promulgated and enforced to protect the girl-child. In fact the general consensus is that enforcing the judicial system to discourage this harmful practice and empowering young girls may well be the only way out of this mess we have found ourselves.

Indeed, Nigeria needs serious rebirth. National laws must be strengthened and made to lord over religious, sectional and cultural dictates.