Rural A’Ibom Children Join Fight Against Girl Marriage | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Rural A’Ibom Children Join Fight Against Girl Marriage

Posted: Jun 29, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Idongesit Ashameri UYO

For the rural school pupils of Nsit Atai Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, celebration of the day of African Child served as eye opener to their individual rights even as children and the need to acquire basic education to be able to resist all forms of pressure and abuses.

A girl display fish for sale at Kastina Ala in Benue State. Girls demand education not early marriage. Photo: Kunle Ajayi

A girl display fish for sale at Kastina Ala in Benue State. Girls demand education not early marriage. Photo: Kunle Ajayi

The 2015 theme of day of African Child-Accelerating Our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa, assisted the rural kids to appreciate the harm brought on them even by parents and certain unfavourable traditions which push these vulnerable ones into early marriages not minding sad consequences of such early exposures.
While these ones may have been deceived to consider any decision made by parents, including early marriage as sign of love, the 2015 theme of the celebration exposed the children to dangers associated with such unfavourable tradition to include denial of rights to life, good health, education, dignity, school drop-out, maternal mortality, virginal fistula (VVF) condition and malnutrition, all traced to early marriages.

The notion of short attention span by school pupils was proved wrong on the occasion as these ones paid undivided attention while the keynote speaker and General Manager of Akwa Ibom Water and Sanitation Agency Mr. Effiong Essien took time to explain, in the language they best understood, the ills of early marriage.
Essien explained that lack of basic education hinders one’s ability to demand for his or her right, noting that such poorly founded marriages could also affect the abilities of those forced into it to bring about healthy and well nurtured children.

While calling on stakekholders to step up in contributing towards the welfare of children, especially in the areas of encouraging education, fight against early marriage and the need to keep the school environments clean, he encouraged the girl child to rise and fight against any attempt to be pushed into early marriage even by their parents.
“We must double effort to protect our girl child if the nation is to attain the millennium development goals. Untimely marriage for a girl child is wrong because a girl needs time to mature and understand herself to be prepared to shoulder family responsibilities so as to be able to bring about responsible children”, he said

Keying into the fight against this long tolerated abuse of the girl child, the Acting Director General of Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation  (AKBC)  Mrs Elsie Udofia, represented by Mr. James Edet advised the children to take advantage of the free and compulsory education policy of Akwa Ibom State to effectively equip and prepare themselves to fight every attempt to abuse them by anyone.

Having discussed poor sanitation, resulting from lack of adequate water supply, as another factor affecting the progress of the girl child education, the children, drawn from six surrounding schools including Methodist School Ikot Akpabio, St. Pius Primary school, Ikot Itie Udung and Government School Ikot Edebe, among others were put through an arts competition to artistically present negative consequences of lack of potable water in schools and communities.

These artistic impressions which saw to the emergence of Anietie Bassey Okon of Methodist School, Asuquo Shadrach Sunday of St Pius and Ezekiel Etim Asuquo of government school as best three respectively, depicted some risks associated with lack of potable water supply to include snake bite, rape, lateness to school, menstrual stains which may lead to school dropout resulting from shame and kidnapping of the girl child while searching for water.

Highpoint of the occasion was demonstration of handwashing, benefits and process by Mrs Mary Essien of the state Ministry of Health,  who took time to show the children how to keep themselves safe through hand washing, which according to her would help to maintain good health and keep them sound and active in school.