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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Nigeria: women protests Senator marriage to a 13-year old girl

Ahmad Sani Yerima. Image from Wikipedia.
The quiet marriage of former Zamfara State governor and Senate Minority Whip, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima to a 13-year old Egyptian girl, has continued to attract condemnation by the womenfolk.
A coalition of women groups yesterday took its protest to the Senate, urging the Senate President, David Mark leadership of the Upper House to suspend him for marrying an underaged girl.  
The coalition, led by Dr. Mma Nkwocha, comprised the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Women Rights Advancement and Pro-tection Alternative (WRAPA) and the Global Association of Women Attorneys (GAFA).
In a swift reaction to the protest, Senators Chris Anyanwu, Emem Uffot Ekaette, Nkechi Nwaogu and Patricia Akwashiki pledged to provide support to the group in its advocacy against the act.
In addition to the call on the Senate leadership to suspend Yerima, the coalition urged his constituents in Zamafara Central Senatorial District to recall him from the Senate.
But Chair of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze, said at a briefing session yesterday that those opposed to Yerima’s marriage should go to court.

According to him, “It is not the responsibility of the Senate to begin to investigate if he (Yerima) has broken the law. The Senate is not a law enforcement agency.”
Leader of the Coalition, Nkwocha had said, while briefing Senate Correspondents, that “The people who are supposed to be guarding the nation are the ones breaking the rules.
Hitherto, Nigeria had hidden under the guise of Islam or Christianity but the issue in question is the marriage of one minor.
Maybe because of poverty, he brought this little girl to Nigeria to complete the marital rites.
We are calling on senator Yerima to resign because this is not the first time. We learnt that another girl that he had taken before now is turning seventeen years.
He has kept that one aside and has come for this little one.  Are we disposable commodities?  It is unbecoming of a nation called Nigeria.
We should be the ones advocating the abolition of child marriage…It is not acceptable.”
GAFA representative, Mrs. Chinelo Iriele, said “Nigerian women are sad because the Child Right Acts, Section 21 prohibits Child marriage.

Two points:
  1. where are the girl's parents? I imagine that they have given her in marriage. So I assume they should be considered responsible for this. Of course, Egypt is soooo moderate and soooo modern that it seems impossible that this could happen.. and yet it has happened.
  2. This is not the first time he marries a minor. So I wonder, if she wasn't either able to marry, why the marriage wasn't declared void. A senator is not an ordinary man: his private affairs are not kept "private". So, why they only learnt it now? And why did the marriage took place?
Anyway, if the civil Law contradicts the Shariah (which also supports polygamy), this guy doesn't have to obey it...

UNICEF on Child marriag in Egypt: Abuse is common in child marriages:
Data from Egypt indicates that 29 per cent of married adolescents have been beaten by their husbands (or husband and others) and, of these adolescents, 41 per cent have been beaten during pregnancy.
Child marriage in Africa:
It is predicted by the UNFPA that worldwide 100 million girls are expected to marry in the next decade [4]. In Africa, UNICEF estimate that 42 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18 and in some African countries the figure is much higher, such as in Niger where there is a 76 per cent incidence of child marriage [5]. The age at which children are married also varies between countries but marriage before the age of 15 is not uncommon and in some areas of West Africa and in Ethiopia, girls are sometimes married as early as age 7 [6].

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