Still on Child Bride: The big yawn, By Cheta Nwanze

Cheta Nwanze

Saturday morning, I went to The Palms Shopping Mall in Lekki to join in signing the petition regarding the hashtag #ChildNotBride. As of 1121 hours, Saturday, 20 July, 2013, the place was, err, empty.

Either that, or the organisers of the signing did not have the good sense to indicate to people precisely where the signing would be taking place. Whatever it is, the point is that I did not see anyone falling over themselves to sign. This despite all the broadcasts I got BlackBerry Messenger and Twitter.

This sad state of events reminds one of what happened after the president granted a state pardon to former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepriye Alamieyeseigha. There was no shortage of noise on the internet, and when ‘Yemi Adamolekun of the Enough is Enough Coalition bothered to start a petition, we had a grand total of 1936 signatures. This was for a petition that was online only and did not require signatories to go through the difficult task of starting their vehicle engines.

These cries bring me to the sad state of my generation, and more specifically, the social class I belong to, the Twitter crowd. A few months ago, I had cause to complain about our attitude towards real world events when despite all of the noise and cries, people failed to go and “vote the PDP out of office” in the FCT Local Council Elections. That pattern is repeating itself now.

While I don’t mind endless BlackBerry broadcasts, indeed I am a culprit myself, I am sick and tired of ignorant people who simply because they happen to have access to a BlackBerry, disturb my life with ill thought out fads, and then arguments about having “done my bit”.

What bit?

Now let us look a a few hard facts.

First, until the Child’s Rights Act was passed, Nigeria’s age of consent was one of the lowest in the world – thirteen.

Second, what happened last week was not a new law making it legal to marry underage girls. What happened last week was that an attempt to expunge that from our Constitution was defeated.

Yes people, in our dear country, it has always been legal for an older man to sexually abuse a child he fantasises over, after obtaining her father’s consent, and nothing would happen. The question is, how do we change that discussion?

Changing that discussion requires some real work, not BlackBerry broadcasts or tweets. Changing that discussion requires reaching out to 19 senators. Changing that discussion requires forcing those 19 senators to realise that in all officially Islamic countries, apart from Yemen, the minimum age of consent is 16. Changing that discussion requires actually going to the National Assembly and putting the issue on the table.

Until we are actually ready to do that, please get the hell off of my timeline.

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