The entire world had held their breath as the Zimmerman verdict had been announced.The news of Zimmerman’s trial has been a social boom, it seemed as though everyone was tweeting, posting, and instragramming all about it.
However I want to bring our attention to something, that in my opinion is must worse yet it doesn’t seem to have made front page news.
In Nigeria the Senators have a passed a law stating that a girl can be married off at any age and once married, she is then considered an adult. There is a much fancier way of putting it, but in short that is what it comes down to.
When I heard that this law had actually been passed I was shocked to say the least.
It didn’t make any sense that such a useless law would be passed let alone be brought up.
So I began researching more about Nigerian law and realized that the country has three different legal systems operating simultaneously; civil, customary, and Islamic, furthermore state and federal governments have control only over marriages that take place within the civil system. This has resulted in domestic violence in the country with 81% of all married women confessing to have experienced some form of verbal or physical abuse by their husbands.
I then took a closer look at the how the new marriage law had come to pass and realized that it all started when the Former Zamfara Governor who is now Senator, Sani Yerima, married a 13 year old Egyptian girl in 2010, contested the 18 year old age restrictions saying it was anti-islam. The Nigerian Senate approved with his request and legalized underage marriage.
I am all for religious freedom and I have nothing against people practicing what they believe in, however when one person’s belief clashes with the well being of an underage child then that changes things. How can you force a 10, 11 or 12 year old to become a wife? That child could hold solutions to problems that we are facing today, but instead she is made to sit in the house and become an adult.
It is a very well know fact that the risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes is much higher for young adolescents than for older women. A young girls body that is just reaching adolescences is not ready for the challenges of child birth.
How can you ask a child to raise a child?
What I don’t understand is how this law was passed when there are 6 women who are currently in the Senate.
Fortunately the people of Nigeria have met this new law with resistance, petitions are being signed to reverse the law, influential actresses and women in power are speaking out against this act.
My personal favourite quote is from Nollywood actor, Nonso Diobi, who said “If she can’t vote, then she can’t marry. A female child should be taken to the classroom, not labour room.”
But despite all these acts against the law, I am still stunned that Nigeria’s First Lady Patience Jonathan has not done or said anything despite the fact that she was appointed Champion for Child Online Protection at a ceremony in Geneva.
I am completely at a loss for words by the decisions that are being made on the account of religion, as a young woman I can’t imagine being forced into marriage to someone I barely know and not being able to fight back, because then I would become the criminal breaking the law.
The law is put to ensure freedom, protection and peace, its the one thing that guarantees that all of us are the same and under one law. Yet when the law begins to change and favour others then what exactly can we do?