Monday, April 6, 2015

Child Brides-Train them to think right or let ignorance have them..

Interesting article written by Rejoice Abutsa
As a young girl I remember being surrounded by Aunties and Uncles who were under my Parents guardianship. I hold in esteem fond memories from knowing Aunty Alice, she was slender, tall, fair, and pale looking. She was the calm one of them all, she braided our hair, she was the one that cooked for us, she was keen on getting us to speak our dialect and would defend us when we fought with other children, then get us indoors, scold us and when our parents got back from work she would spare no detail about our stubbornness. She was far from old, she was just sixteen but we were expected to call her Aunty. My siblings and I loved the idea of having Aunties and Uncles in other words ‘protectors’.
I was seven in 2002, and we sat in the living room, I heard my parents asking Aunty Alice why she felt the urgent need to register for her W.A.E.C in the village rather than in the city? I hardly remember the conversation but I remember

Aunty Alice told us one morning, with her bags by her side that she was going back to the village to write her W.A.E.C. and that she would be back after her papers. Six months went by and she did not return but my mother received a message saying Aunty Alice was pregnant, few days later she was back to living with us. I saw her stomach grow rounder and rounder, she looked full and different from the slender aunty Alice we knew.
She gave birth to her daughter with us, we called her Sarah. Months after the birth of Sarah, Aunty Alice packed up her bags and left, she wanted to get married. My father had spoken to her on the possibility of her return to school and tried several means of persuasion but she chose marriage. Aunty Alice’s younger sister arrived soon after, it was almost like she came to replace Aunty Alice and immediately she was enrolled to school. Few weeks after her arrival, my father was receiving reports on her inability to sit in class she preferred chatting with friends, staying away from class. She was not ready for school.

Aunty Alice still visited us less than a year later, her stomach was round, she was pregnant again. I never saw the child in her subsequent visits but as I grew, I found that she gave birth to the child but he died that same night. I found out that Aunty Alice had suffered three more miscarriages, two happened in the same year. Aunty Alice was not even eighteen!
Christmas day, 2013 was the day Aunty Alice called my mom and revealed she was expecting a child, due in January, I was eighteen at the time, I had a better understanding of the story. My mom promised to visit her as soon as she could. Two days later we were to hear of Aunty Alice’s death when my parent’s car pulled by the gate an hour after the waved us bye on their way to work. I gave a cold scream and sat there numb. Aunty Alice was the first cousin I knew from my paternal side and so I travelled with my parents to see our family in Nasarawa State.

For the first time I saw a grown Sarah, she was a hyperactive As a young girl I remember being surrounded by Aunties and Uncles who were under my Parents guardianship. I hold in esteem fond memories from knowing Aunty Alice, she was slender, tall, fair, and pale looking. She was the calm one of them all, she braided our hair, she was the one that cooked for us, she was keen on getting us to speak our dialect and would defend us when we fought with other children, then get us indoors, scold us and when our parents got back from work she would spare no detail about our stubbornness. She was far from old, she was just sixteen but we were expected to call her Aunty. My siblings and I loved the idea of having Aunties and Uncles in other words ‘protectors’.

I was seven in 2002, and we sat in the living room, I heard my parents asking Aunty Alice why she felt the urgent need to register for her W.A.E.C in the village rather than in the city? I hardly remember the conversation but I remember Aunty Alice told us one morning, with her bags by her side that she was going back to the village to write her W.A.E.C. and that she would be back after her papers. Six months went by and she did not return but my mother received a message saying Aunty Alice was pregnant, few days later she was back to living with us. I saw her stomach grow rounder and rounder, she looked full and different from the slender aunty Alice we knew. She gave birth to her daughter with us, we called her Sarah. Months after the birth of Sarah, Aunty Alice packed up her bags and left, she wanted to get married. My father had spoken to her on the possibility of her return to school and tried several means of persuasion but she chose marriage. Aunty Alice’s younger sister arrived soon after, it was almost like she came to replace Aunty Alice and immediately she was enrolled to school. Few weeks after her arrival, my father was receiving reports on her inability to sit in class she preferred chatting with friends, staying away from class. She was not ready for school.

Aunty Alice still visited us less than a year later, her stomach was round, she was pregnant again. I never saw the child in her subsequent visits but as I grew, I found that she gave birth to the child but he died that same night. I found out that Aunty Alice had suffered three more miscarriages, two happened in the same year. Aunty Alice was not even eighteen!

Christmas day, 2013 was the day Aunty Alice called my mom and revealed she was expecting a child, due in January, I was eighteen at the time, I had a better understanding of the story. My mom promised to visit her as soon as she could. Two days later we were to hear of Aunty Alice’s death when my parent’s car pulled by the gate an hour after the waved us bye on their way to work. I gave a cold scream and sat there numb. Aunty Alice was the first cousin I knew from my paternal side and so I travelled with my parents to see our family in Nasarawa State. For the first time I saw a grown Sarah, she was a hyperactive child, I did not see her shed a tear for her mother, all she kept asking me was if I knew her mom, my yes was unbelievable to her and she kept asking. 
During this visit, I noticed fifteen year old girls, strapped with children on their backs, going about chores for their husbands and his family. When I started the topic with another of my cousin, a younger sister of Aunty Alice who I had never met, I found out that she also wanted that life and that she had just gotten admitted to the College of education and she instead wanted to be married, she was 18, just like me yet our priorities functioned on different levels.
 It was during this visit I got to listen to an 11 year old Sarah speak of marriage as though it was an urgent necessity. It was during this visit I got questions of when I intended to get married, I felt irritated by this, and my concern was school! When I sat to speak with my 18 year old cousin on why she was so eager about marriage rather than school, her response was that I should look at all her juniors who were married, why did she have to be at school? I gave her an A_Z, on why it should be school over marriage and her response was, ‘you won’t understand’. I felt irritated and prayed she did not find a husband till she graduates! What I realized during my visit was that ss3 was the limit for them as far as school was concerned and the struggled to reach there because even before senior class most of the girls had a child.

Days go by and I think of Aunty Alice maybe, she would still be alive if she did not insist on a marriage, a marriage that I got to find out was a cloud of sadness for her but was a necessity because the environment she grew up in made it normal. It was while I was at the village after her death that I learnt that 3 amongst 10 girls gave birth to babies that die two days later, and yet nobody was doing anything about it. It was during this visit I found out that some of this girls had not less than 3 miscarriages before getting to twenty and that most of them saw it okay to be flogged by the men they were married to as punishments for their mistakes at home.

During this visit I also found out that there was a possibility for a girl to be married to a man and move on to another if she was not satisfied with him. It was during this visit I found out that it was only the need to stay at school that stopped some of the girls from getting married and that they began to feel too old at sixteen without a Child or without marriage. My heart still bleeds thinking about my hometown, there is need to strategize campaigns for education, for learning, for the right exposure not just in the cities but especially the rural areas which are most ignored, there is need for community dialogue, there is need for mobilization of community and traditional rulers, there is need for us all to scream against child marriage! 


It is not about my community but all the ignored communities in Africa, in Nigeria that need a little voice of help. For all the Children that just need to be Children. There is an urgent need to stop child marriage, a child should be a child not a bride! Let us all contribute our anger and make it the change that would affect us all in the right way.

child, I did not see her shed a tear for her mother, all she kept asking me was if I knew her mom, my yes was unbelievable to her and she kept asking. During this visit, I noticed fifteen year old girls, strapped with children on their backs, going about chores for their husbands and his family. When I started the topic with another of my cousin, a younger sister of Aunty Alice who I had never met, I found out that she also wanted that life and that she had just gotten admitted to the College of education and she instead wanted to be married, she was 18, just like me yet our priorities functioned on different levels. It was during this visit I got to listen to an 11 year old Sarah speak of marriage as though it was an urgent necessity. 
It was during this visit I got questions of when I intended to get married, I felt irritated by this, and my concern was school! When I sat to speak with my 18 year old cousin on why she was so eager about marriage rather than school, her response was that I should look at all her juniors who were married, why did she have to be at school? I gave her an A_Z, on why it should be school over marriage and her response was, ‘you won’t understand’. I felt irritated and prayed she did not find a husband till she graduates! What I realized during my visit was that ss3 was the limit for them as far as school was concerned and the struggled to reach there because even before senior class most of the girls had a child.

Days go by and I think of Aunty Alice maybe, she would still be alive if she did not insist on a marriage, a marriage that I got to find out was a cloud of sadness for her but was a necessity because the environment she grew up in made it normal. It was while I was at the village after her death that I learnt that 3 amongst 10 girls gave birth to babies that die two days later, and yet nobody was doing anything about it. It was during this visit I found out that some of this girls had not less than 3 miscarriages before getting to twenty and that most of them saw it okay to be flogged by the men they were married to as punishments for their mistakes at home. During this visit I also found out that there was a possibility for a girl to be married to a man and move on to another if she was not satisfied with him. It was during this visit I found out that it was only the need to stay at school that stopped some of the girls from getting married and that they began to feel too old at sixteen without a Child or without marriage.
 My heart still bleeds thinking about my hometown, there is need to strategize campaigns for education, for learning, for the right exposure not just in the cities but especially the rural areas which are most ignored, there is need for community dialogue, there is need for mobilization of community and traditional rulers, there is need for us all to scream against child marriage! It is not about my community but all the ignored communities in Africa, in Nigeria that need a little voice of help. For all the Children that just need to be Children. There is an urgent need to stop child marriage, a child should be a child not a bride! Let us all contribute our anger and make it the change that would affect us all in the right way.
Rejoice Abutsa is a theatre arts student of the University of Jos,trying  to call on action through writing...

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