In Ethiopia, little girls are kidnapped while headed to class, assaulted, and afterward offered to their captors; in Ghana, they are hitched to chief priests and are made to become “captives to the deities” to pay for their family’s transgressions. In Cameroon, young girls are guaranteed in the union to settle obligations while still in the belly.
“There are various types of child marriage; however, all have one basic point: the young child doesn’t have a voice,” Françoise Kpeglo Moudouthe, Africa territorial official for the promotion of Girls Not Brides, said. “Her status locally is low to the point that she doesn’t have the privilege to talk about this issue: if she needs to wed, when she needs to wed and who she needs to wed,” he added.
True stories on child marriage
According to stories shared on Unicef.org, Aisha, nine, was discreetly hurried through the halls of Zamfara’s Faridat Yakubu general emergency clinic. Aisha doesn’t have the words for what had occurred to her on her wedding night. Her husband, she said, forced her and had his way with her from behind, and it was so painful.
In the same ward, Halima was on her third visit within three years. “I like it here. It is the only time I at any point see a TV,” she says. Barely short of 13, she was forced to show how fruitful she was. “I thought it would never end (the endless pain),” she adds softly.
In the practice of the Hausa community, girls are made to bear their children at home. Shouting out while in labor is viewed as an indication of weakness.
Three days after her prolonged labor, Halima begged to be taken to the hospital. The baby had already died in her womb. This left Halima with a fistula, which causes uncontrolled urinating or defecating on one’s body. “Fistulas can happen to anybody, however, are generally seen among young girls whose pelvises aren’t fully formed to birth a child,” said Dr. Mutia, one of two fistula specialists in Zamfara.
Why in the world would anybody deny these young girls their childhood and youth?
Many people underestimate that marriage should be a choice; however, every year, 15 million young ladies are compelled to wed.
Many older men in nations like Nigeria decide to wed young girls, some pre-adolescents. 43% of young Nigerian girls are married off before the age of 18; 17% are hitched before their fifteenth birthday celebration (girlsnotbride.org). As Africa’s biggest developing country with more than 200 million inhabitants, it is expected that Nigeria will have the highest number of child marriages by 2050 (ufpa.org).
Even though Nigeria and other African nations have set a goal to end child marriage by 2030, accomplishing this will still take a much longer time.
While child marriage affects both young boys and girls, it is more unmistakable among young girls. The main reason is gender inequality and the conviction that girls and women are second-rated to boys and men. This is exacerbated by poverty, absence of education, unsafe accepted practices, and instability.