Members of the Children’s Parliament have raised the alarm over the betrothal of under-aged girls to old men for economic reasons.
The parliament raised the alarm, yesterday, in Abuja at a media roundtable organised by Save the Children International (SCI) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of International Day of the Girl Child.
A girl champion from Yobe State, Khadija Badamasi, said: “Yobe State, where I hail from, due to poverty, has the largest number of child brides in North East Nigeria. In my community, most people are farmers, and due to poverty, parents borrow money to cultivate their farms.
“During harvest, if the father is unable to pay back the loan, a father usually takes the decision to give out his daughter in marriage, regardless of her age, most times, to a man old enough to be her father or grandfather.”
This girl bride, she added, is treated like a slave with no respect of any kind because of how she was betrothed.
“Girls in my community face a lot when it comes to early and forced marriage. Child marriage has caused more harm than good in my society today. It violates children’s rights and places them at high risk of violence, exploitation and abuse,” she said.
Badamasi also pointed out that girls with disabilities face additional barriers to accessing support and services, adding that the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) worsened the plight of girls around the world and took away important gains made over the last decade.
The Chairman of, the Committee on Child’s Participation, Miss Madina Abdulkadir, said the girl, just like the boy, who has a right to security and education, also deserves to live a healthy life.
She, therefore, called on the government and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the important role girl plays in society.
SCI Nigeria’s Director of Advocacy Campaigns, Communication and Media, Mr. Amanuel Mamo, called on governments at all levels to develop and fund national action plans to end child marriage and other forms of violence against children.
According to him, Nigeria is among the countries with the highest number of child marriages and out-of-school children, as the number of girls marrying each year is estimated at 12 million – two million of them married before their 15th birthday.
While commending states that have passed the Child Protection Law, he urged others to follow suit.