UNFPA partners Kano, Emirate Council to end early marriage
• VVF, Symptom Of A Failed System, Says Osotimehin
• Kano Plans Legislation To Peg Marriage At 18 Years
A new deal is being worked out towards ending child marriage in the country, as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Kano State Government and the Emirate Council in the state have come together to push for its legislation.
Already, the Kano State government and the Kano Emirate Council have set up committees to fine-tune legislations that would make it criminal for anybody in the state to marry a girl below the age of 18.
The state governor, Umar Ganduje, said the move would ensure that girls achieve their full academic potentials and are protected from challenges that come with early marriage.
He spoke at a meeting with Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, who was in the state as part of advocacy to end early marriage and end the scourge of fistula, yesterday.
“The first stage is public enlightenment to make sure that the marriage age is shifted at least to 18. We have cultural challenges, but I cannot say we have religious challenges because that aspect has been explained even from history. We have constituted a committee, which is working on that and we may go for a legislation in order to give it a very strong backing due to some religious injunctions so that we carry our people along,” the Governor said.
As part of efforts to reduce the incidences of Vesico Vagina Fistula (VVF) in the state, the governor said the state was working on improving its health facilities and have secured a tripartite agreement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the Dangote Foundation.
Osotimehin described VVF as a symptom of a failed system.
“Women should not get VVF. We should work towards getting girls to go and to stay in school and make sure they don’t get married early. I know this is pretty difficult, because sometimes it is culturally inclined. However, the truth of the matter is that the girl, who goes and stays in school until she is around 18, is better than a girl who has a child at 10 years old. She will survive, the baby will survive and do well and she also will do better, “he said.
Speaking, the Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, called on Islamic leaders to help in teaching the people how the holy Qur’an encourages education of all types.
He said: “Every day, we hear that our people take their adolescent daughters between the ages of 11 and 13 and give them out for marriage. Such a girl gets no proper care, when she wants to deliver; she ends up with VVF and leaking urine. They are everywhere in the region. We as leaders have a burden entrusted on us.
“That is why we call on political, religious and traditional leaders to allow our girls to be educated. Islamic countries like Morocco, Malaysia and Egypt have made amendments to their laws, which we have failed to do.”
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhassan, said, “Nigeria had an estimated 36, 000 women dying in pregnancy and childbirth annually, with wide regional disparity and a majority of the deaths occurring in the northern part of the country.”
She pledged government’s commitment to ending the crisis, by ensuring easier access to health care.