Story By:  Abidemi Ogundere

The Oxford English Dictionary defines child as, “a person who is below the age of adulthood; a minor, a person who is below the legal age of responsibility and accountability.”

Therefore, when a child engages in marriage, it means shoving the responsibilities of an adult to a child, usually a female, and which that child will not be able to handle.
Marriage on the other hand, is the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex, as husband or wife, in a consensual and contractual relationship recognised by law.
A child is someone who cannot handle the responsibilities that comes with being an adult, but when a female child is married off to a much older man, you burden her with that responsibility that her mind, soul, heart and body isn’t ready for.
She is deprived the opportunity to go to school or plan a meaningful future for herself, because once she’s married, what is expected of her is to start bearing children. But how can any sane individual expect a child to raise another child? It’s simply barbaric.
The Muslims most especially, engage in this act of abuse towards the girl child. Imagine a man in his late 40’s marrying a girl of about 14years old. They do not see it as a form of abuse to the girl child, but the act alone kills that child very slowly but painfully.
She is exposed to so many health risks, she could end up having cervical cancer, she could even die at child birth, or may have so many complications that she be barren for the rest of her life. Where does that leave her, when she’s off age? Her youth is taken away from her. She’s left with no choice but to do the bidings of her parents or guardians. Her freewill is taken from her and she’s deprived of her rights as a child – to be educated, right to live love and be loved, even right to survival. This barbaric act must be stopped.
Illiteracy, lack of exposure, poverty, and sometimes culture / religion (as child marriage is mostly practiced by the muslims / northerners) are likely causes of child marriage, but that is no justification for the destruction of the life of a girl child.
For instance, the case of Ese Oruru who eloped or supposedly kidnapped by *Yellow* , which resulted in her pregnancy.
A child, especially the girl child has as much right to basic education, to a bright and happy future as a male child. She should be allowed to grow, enjoy her youth, date or get involved in relationships, get her heart broken a few times, to fall in and out of love, and eventually fall in love with a man she’ll want to spend the rest of her life with, and at her own time, decide on when, if at all, she wants to have children of her own.
Child marriage has indeed caused more harm than good as it has stripped many young girls of their childhood, their dreams, their basic child’s rights and their health.

We can be a catalyst for change by standing up for the girl child against such injustice.

Say no to child marriage, as it is illegal, unfair, and against the law.

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