A 35 year old man was arraigned before the Lagos State Chief Magistrate’s Court for neglecting his 17 year old wife and denying her the necessities of life. This story was published on Punch, the news site.
Apparently, the two are not legally married even though they’ve been living together for the past 5 years; since the girl took in with his baby when she was 13. They met when she was in Junior Secondary 2 and she’s had 3 children for him already. The problem began when she took in the fourth time. He beat her and claimed that he was not responsible for the pregnancy nor was he the father of the other children. The Magistrate has ordered that a paternity test be held for the children.
This Child Marriage Thing
This is the most infuriating story I’ve read this morning. Let’s stop for a moment and do the math. He met her when she was in JSS 2, which means she was either 12 or 13 at the time and then had sex with her and got her pregnant – a 13 year old child. Now if this man was 18 years old, it would have been bad enough, but from our calculation, he was about 30 or 31 at that time. For the love of God, what was a 30 year old man doing with a 13 year old girl? What kind of madness is this? Left for us, the man should be stripped naked, and flogged with the three-pronged whip that boarding school discipline masters favoured when I was younger.
Honestly I don’t even know why I’m so mad at this, growing up in Plateau State as I did; that was the norm. You would see all these small pre-teen girls telling you they had boyfriends and when you finally met the old men they claimed were their boyfriends, you would be horrified. They then proceed to get pregnant, drop out of school and grow old by the age of 25.
See this poor child now who could have been an engineer or a politician or a nurse, who could have added value to herself, her family and her society, what is there for her? How is a child supposed to be a mother when she is still a child. She had her childhood stolen from her and that is just so painful. It’s easy to wonder if she had parents but honestly some parents are not any better. Once a man comes bearing a bundle of Naira notes in 200 Naira denominations, they are happy to turn a blind eye.
We’ve been shouting child marriage this and child marriage that, but this went on right in Surulere in Lagos. What of her teachers? How could they let something like this happen?
What to do?
I strongly believe that it is not that these girls are ‘useless’ like some commenter said, nor is it that they have no common sense, even though we know that sense is not that common after all. The problem is that they lack mentors and role models; people who care about them and hold them accountable. Some of us were lucky to have parents, aunts and teachers who played that role in our lives. But what do these women have? This girl now, how can she be a role model or mentor to her daughters?
It is time we wake up to our responsibilities as human beings and as women. We owe it to the generation behind to pick one or two girls and mentor them. If you don’t want to do that out of the goodness of your heart, then do it with the hope that your son will meet a girl who has been carefully mentored by someone else.
There are many girls out there with kids and no education, struggling to keep their heads above water. Let’s offer them what support we can. But beyond that, let’s make sure that the next girl at least has a chance to be somebody.