Challenging the dangerous narrative and teaching people about child marriage
A young woman recovers after giving birth to twins. She was married at the age of 12 and had her first child at the age of 15, enduring protracted five-day labor.
Child marriage refers to the legal or illegal union of two people in which at least one of the parties is under 18 years. According to UNICEF, 76% of girls in Niger get married before the age of 18 and 28% before the age of 15 years hence making Niger have the highest rate of child marriage in the world.
Child marriage in Niger affects all aspects of life from political, economic to social. However, it is those in rural areas who are more greatly affected than those in the urban centres. This is because those in urban centres have access to education and are less exposed to this evil than those in rural areas who most of the times drop out of school due to several reasons as will be discussed below.
What are the causes and narratives behind child marriage in Niger?
In 2016, the United Nations Human Development Index ranked Niger as the second least-developed of 188 countries, therefore, being one of the poorest countries, girls from poor families are likely to be exposed to child marriage than those from rich homes because in most cases, parents would use their children as sources of income and so they would encourage them to get married so that they get wealth and be paid a bride price.
Tradition and Religious beliefs: Islam as a religion puts emphasis on the fact that people are supposed to get married immediately when they attain puberty and tradition also claims that girls should get married before their first menstruation period because they believe that shedding of blood is a sign of loss of virginity which brings shame to the family and therefore to protect the family from shame and to preserve the girl’s dignity, she is encouraged to get married.
Gender roles: According to the UNHDI, only 39.9% of women are included in the Labour participation program and 89.8% of men are included, therefore, as in other African countries, society has always dictated that the ultimate primary role of female is to be mothers, stay at home and do domestic work and so in Niger, girls are prepared how they have to take care of a husband and so when their getting married, they are judged on the basis of how obedient they are as wives.
Here is a video summarising the causes and how terrible child marriage is.
Note. I was discussing with one friend from Niger and she said that the other reasons for the increased rate of of child marriage are the victims themselves(girls) inthat they are either influenced by their friend who got married early and sometimes because of the state there in interms of economics and so f they see a rich man, they don not care about the age they just rush uinto marriage.
She also metioned something that i found interesting that although the government have adopted the 2030 SDG of making sure that there i no child marriage, most politicians use it as a political startegy to get votes and so they encourage young adults to vote and so they consider them as grown ups which makes child marriage innevitable in the county.
Dangers of child marriage.
How can we put an end to this evil? And what other people have done to end it.
It is important to educate parents and children about the dangers of child marriage and the importance of education for girls so as to break the old theories that girls are born to be wives. Children should also be taught how to communicate to their parents regarding these issues and ensuring that their confident enough to stand and tell their parents “No” because i think most of the girls do not have the confidence to disagree with their parents.
Strict Laws against child marriage should be put in place and those that go against it should be punished by the law.
Organizations like Freedom United, UNICEF, UNFPA, and PLAN have done a good job in campaigning against child marriage and some of the girls who were once victims of the system became pioneers in their societies. For example, Roumanatou who was about to get married at the age of 15 but challenged her parents is helping her fellow girls in the community and this is the amazing work she is doing
I will campaign against child marriage in Niger by sharing this information on social media and also encouraging other people to share it because it is not only in Niger but also other countries and it needs immediate attention especially in Africa where the
Dodd, Josephine. “Niger: The Highest Rate Of Child Marriage In The World – Humanium”. Humanium, 2016, https://www.humanium.org/en/niger-child-marriage/. Accessed 15 Apr 2019.
“Poverty In Niger”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_Niger. Accessed 14 Apr 2019.
“General Information On Niger”. Africa.Upenn.Edu, 2019, http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Country_Specific/niger_info.html. Accessed 11 Apr 2019.