The passage of the loathsome ‘Child Marriage’ law,  following the amendment of Section 29(4) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, has been rightly criticised by the general public, I believe it should have been named appropriately as what it is, the “paedophilic law”.

Many cynics consider this bill an open invitation to the world’s randiest paedophiles and sex tourists, that we are open for lascivious business.

I know majority of legislators have hoodwinked the populace on many issues, including the tacit siphoning of our commonwealth, but I seriously wonder if they deliberated thoroughly on the wider implications of such actions. I must state I am gladdened by Senator Babafemi Ojudu’s revelation of the senate’s voting pattern, so all hope isn’t lost.

This ‘Child Marriage’ law is motivated by nothing more than the perversion of man, and the contumacious excesses of particular lawmakers who sponsor and support such lewdness. When such absurdities are initiated, there are always champions who lead such queasy causes, one of such protagonists is the latest “Spiritual consultant” to the President, Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima, who gained notoriety for his marriage to a young Egyptian girl. Though maligned for his actions, some wondered how it’s anyone’s business, after all the parents the Egyptian girl fully approved of it.

Agreed, what some of our lawmakers and public servants do in private is their business, but the enactment of such a law is another matter entirely.
I wouldn't even delve into the controversial introduction of “Sharia” by Yerima and others- which was nothing more than political fanfare across many Northern states.

However, of important note was the chopping off a man's hand for allegedly stealing during Yerima's tenure as Governor, interestingly, the former EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu, accused Yerima of “direct stealing” of State funds as Governor of Zamfara- so why the selective chopping off of hands?

Evidently, we can't all share the same views in any society, and respecting opposing views is encouraged, however I believe Child Rights should supersede all the divergent views in any polity, crossing all geographical enclaves.

I concede there are many people, who not only support such views as Yerima but also practice it, though such practices occur across the country, it is prevalent in Northern Nigeria- but it would be wrong to insinuate everyone from the North is in support of Child Marriage.

On a personal note, of all the rhetoric in support of this bizarre practice, there's nothing I find more repugnant than using the religion of Islam as justification.

Historically, Islam is often misrepresented and perceived through bias Orientalist pejorative- an orchestrated mechanism devised primarily to demonize Prophet Mohammed and Islam.

These Orientalists and those who reason as such, often mention the age of Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Mohammed, to promote an agenda meant to ridicule the entire faith.

Please permit me to digress and address my Muslim brethren without going into too much detail.

The notion that Aisha was 6 at betrothal or 9 at consummation can't be substantiated, as the veracity of that story has been debunked with historical events that contradict such a possibility.

Evidences such as when she was born, period Aisha's parents accepted Islam, her previous betrothal to someone else (Jubair), the time Khadija (first wife of Prophet) died, age of Fatima (Prophet Mohammed’s daughter) a contemporary of Aisha, age of Aisha's sister, Asma. Other evidences include, Aisha's involvement in some expeditions, battle of Uhud especially, her scholarly contributions, time of her death and other indisputable facts, have nullified this age '6' and '9' fable.

Some scholars, through the rigorous study of such evidences, stated Aisha may have been at least 19 years of age during her consummation.

It is important to state, there's a difference between betrothal and consummation. A child, female especially, can be betrothed from the day she is born, which is still practised in many parts of the world, but, consummation is the real deal and the major concern, because this involves sexual intercourse.

There are cultural variations across the world with the ages ranging between 16 and 20 as marriageable age, however, age of sexual consent is another issue.

For instance, some Child Marriage practices, sometimes motivated by the need to cement political or financial ties, were previously acceptable in Western countries, but aren't exactly commonplace presently. In the United Kingdom for example, we are aware girls under the age of 15 are sexually active and are delivering babies regularly, but the law states 18 as minimum age for marriage and 16 with parental consent, though in Scotland it is 16. The same applies to most African countries and even Muslim dominated countries.

These are facts, those who think it's their “religious” duty or obligation to have child brides, may want to reconsider.

I am of the opinion this practice has more to do with culture than religion- an aberration all enlightened Muslim's must reject intellectually.

The Quran should be the basis and its superiority to the Hadith, which are narratives, must be emphasized. There are verses in the Quran highlighting maturity and consent before marriage. So its wrongs to cherry-pick aspects of religious texts, like Hadith, and usually out of context, to suit personal whims, however perverted.

The same admonitory caution goes to mischief-makers trying to disparage Islam and cast aspersions on Prophet Mohammed. These are the hypocrites who only become “righteous” anytime it's time to criticise Islam or it’s another “Open Season” on Muslim's. These are people who in no way adhere to the dictates of their professed faith, but are the most opprobrious in such anti-Islamic matters.

I would like to give a big Kudos to some non- Muslims, Christians especially, for their objectivity: their opposition to tainting Islam on this matter, but concentrating on the real issue of Child Rights.

Many studies have revealed poverty is a key factor in almost all child marriage cases and indirectly related to Obstetric Fistula. Economic hardship leads many families to sell or lease their male and female children to sexual predators and child molesters across the globe.

I would implore the same energies that have rejected this Child Marriage bill be spent rejecting the factors perpetuating poverty in our milieu.

I gathered the Nigerian Senate passed the bill on religious rights grounds, if true; they may want to rescind such a decision- as it can't be explicitly justified in the name of religion. I don’t know which “Islamic law” Senator Yerima is referring to in his twisted defence of a despicable act, as I am not aware of any. I hope those who hide under the guise of religion are aware Islam permits the evolvement of socio-cultural related laws- who knows, we may soon get one for the castration of men who only lust after prepubescent girls.  

Religious rights mustn't be abused under any guise, the fundamental human rights of others mustn't be infringed upon in the name of religion. Let us protect the rights of our children. God Bless Nigeria!

[email protected]

 -M.B.O 2013©


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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