‘Our girls marry very early because of Boko Haram’
STAKEHOLDERS on the African child in Bauchi State have lamented the rate of early child marriages in the North East, saying it has increased geometrically due to the kidnapped Chibok girls by Boko Haram insurgents in the region.
The observation was made yesterday during a programme to mark the Day of the African Child with the theme: “Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa,” organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) D Field Office in Bauchi in collaboration with the Bauchi State Television (BATV).
Presenting a paper entitled: “Child Marriage in Africa, Causes and Consequences,” a resource person at the event, Muhammad Inuwa Bello, lamented that many teenage girls, particularly in the north are being given out early in marriage by their parents/ guardians because of the on-going insecurity in the region.
He said since most of the insurgents capture young girls and use them as sex slaves, many parents prefer to marry out the girls at an early age to interested suitors rather than sending them to school and have them fall victims of insurgents.
Inuwa said: “What happened to the over 200 girls who were captured by insurgents at Chibok in Borno State is still fresh in our memories that the parents of those girls have still not recovered from the trauma.”
“So many parents in the north who saw what happened to the girls are discouraged to send their daughters to school. They prefer to marry off their daughters, instead of sending them to school and they fall victims to insurgents.”
He encouraged parents to train their daughters to, at least, Senior Secondary School (SSS) level before giving them out in marriage, saying that it will assist them to gain employment opportunities that will develop the nation.
In his goodwill message, UNICEF Field Communication Officer, Samuel Kalu, commended stakeholders in the state for partnering with UNICEF to fight the menace of early child marriage, saying it will go a long way in boosting girl- child education in the North East of the country.
The Day of the African Child (DAC) is a resolution passed by the African Union Assembly in 1991 to celebrate June 16 of every year in commemoration of the 1976 protest by school children in Soweto, South Africa. The students protested against an education system designed to further the purposes of the apartheid regime. The brutal response of the apartheid security agencies to the students’ protest resulted in the death of a number of them. The protest eventually led to the collapse of the apartheid regime.
The aim of the programme was to update education stakeholders on the state of basic education in the North and sensitize stakeholders on the need to discourage early child marriage as well promote girl-child education as part of nation building.