Ogun women protest against child marriage #ChildNotBride

Senator Ahmad Yerima

The Concerned Women Forum protested against the marriage of underage females.

Hundreds of women under the aegis of Concerned Women Forum on Wednesday trooped out in Abeokuta, the Ogun State Capital, to protest against the controversial section 29 (4b) in the Nigerian constitution which is being attended to by the Senate.

The subsection, devoted to citizenship, accords full rights to a female who is married regardless of her age.

The Nigeria senate had been reviewing the constitution and had voted to delete the clause when Ahmed Yerima, described by critics as a propagator of child marriage, resisted the deletion, prompting a second round voting that ensured the clause remained a fixture in the constitution.

This led to a massive outcry by the Nigerian populace, some of whom called their representatives at the senate to demand an explanation for supporting the non-removal of the clause.

While it seemed like the furore was abating, the Concerned Women Forum, led by Iyalode of Yorubaland, Alaba Lawson, stormed the Iwe-Iroyin Press Centre, located in Oke-Ilewo area of Abeokuta to express their grievances about the Federal lawmakers position on the bill.

The protesting women, including market women, religious groups and civil society groups across the state carried placards with various inscriptions which read: “Give us education, not marriage”, “Child marriage is barbaric, no to it”, ” woe to husbands of underage, they are evils”, “Ogun children reject child marriage”.

The leader of the team, Ms. Lawson, while speaking during the protest, bemoaned Nigerian lawmakers asking rhetorically “is that the next thing we need in this country, what are they looking for, what are they portraying to the other nations of the World?”

Ms. Lawson lamented that child marriage would deprive girls of adequate education, stressing that the act had destroyed the lives of young girls in some parts of the country.

She maintained that the lawmakers should have focused their attention on the alleviation of poverty ravaging the country rather than engaging themselves in the issue of child marriage.

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She urged President Goodluck Jonathan to join Nigerians in kicking against the bill and called on Nigerians to vote wisely during the next elections; “shun their N500 and their exercise books”, she said.

Also speaking, Chairperson of the State Concerned Mothers Forum, Oluyemisi Soyemi, said the group was surprised that the lawmakers could descend so low as to think of child marriage especially with the menace of teenage pregnancy.

Ms. Soyemi urged the women not be divided by religion in their quest to fight against the bill stressing that child marriage would lead to negative effects on the girls.

“Some people are blessed with only females and if you allow their children to be married at the age of 13, what will be the gain of the women”, asked Ms. Soyemi.

A secondary school student, Ayobami Lawson, described the lawmakers’ actions as “perverted” and said Nigerians need policies that would improve the standard of living of Nigerians.

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