SAVING OUR EGGS

As a woman and a mother I see young girls as our eggs and they must be protected at all cost: misguided or not, their voices must be heard through us and their interest be considered in delicate defining issues such as this. If our mothers didn’t know, we know now and therefore must act and voice out.

That said.

The fact that #girlchildnotbride is termed a “social media hoax” and a misdirected cause bring me back to straighten few points after I gave what I thought would be my last thoughts on the matter. Read here: https://africanlovestories.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/there-are-no-demons-in-our-heads/

May I clearly say here that it is no surprise that the Child Acts 2003 is yet to be passed in Zamfara state and other 12 states. From the Senator’s utterances and I infer; the Child Acts is subject to his beliefs and as such does not count where the issue of marriageable age is concerned forgetting that the “State’s belief” is that which overrides person(s) interest. This he brought to the table recently in light of the move to remove Section 29(4)(b).

I have read a couple of articles concerning this matter, each with strong views and proofs. But I dare say that I want to establish the link between Section 29(4)(b), the Child Acts and ….section 277 of the Act supra.

I understand the following:

1. That the Senators have not passed a bill on child marriage neither have they legalised it.
2. That the Child Right Acts July,2003 is the foundational law recognised by the Constitution wherein the Constitution is the supreme law whence other laws derive their validity.
3. That the Part 1, Item 61, Second Schedule (Exclusive Legislative List) of the Constitution directs the National Assembly to steer away from Islamic marriages as it states that “formulation, annulment and dissolution of marriages other than marriages under Islamic Law and Customary Law, including matrimonial clauses relating thereto”.

Section 29(4)(b) which is under contention reserves the right for a “married woman” regardless of her age to renounce her citizenship. According to Mr Ezebuike Temple in his “Opinion: We are fighting the wrong battle on child marriage” http://www.ynaija.com/category/opinion/, his view gives the surface value of the “drafter” that he adopts as well. However, if I may, on critical examination, the Section 29(4)(b) indirectly acknowledges the fact that the Constitution is “tolerant” to child marriages and as such sees the need to make the provision for underaged married women to have same right as the aged married women in event that such a “married-girl-child” wants to renounce her citizenship without considering if this “married child” is fully aware of the huge implications of a grave issue that is been treated as trivial by some.

Again I ask. What does a “married-girl-child” know on the myriad issue of denouncing her citizenship, seeking asylums etc. She doesn’t even the capacity to finance it!!!-Note here that finance is not limited to monetary aspect. Renouncing her citizenship is no small matter to be overlooked and my opinion is that she needs to be an adult to do that as well.

I beg to digress a little (culled from https://m.facebook.com/nasirelrufai/posts/10153028894315128) “As it is, the law allows foreign wives to obtain Nigerian citizenship via marriage; Chapter 3clause(26)(a). Conversely, if a Nigerian woman marries a foreign man, he does not automatically get the right to apply for Nigerian citizenship. That gender discrimination was considered in the ongoing review by the current lawmakers. The votes and proceedings paper of Tuesday 16th July 2013 show the senators voted to replace the word woman for person. A less discriminatory word and giving Nigerian women the power to grant her husband citizenship of her country also” (this is not yet passed into law by the way)

Invariably, the “married-girl-child” has the power to grant her husband citizenship under the Second schedule, part 1, item 61 of the Constitution if she is married on the Islamic and customary platform. The implication of this I leave to your imagination.

In Dr. Mrs Maryam Uwais submission. Read here http://omojuwa.com/2013/07/senator-yerima-and-constitutional-review-by-maryam-uwais/?wpmp_tp=0. Her view clearly listed the numerous challenges of girl child marriage. The same girl child marriage that was declared solutions to Nigeria’s MANY UNCOUNTABLE problems. She points out that Islamic provisions should not be abused but that they were made to protect followers making mention of mental development and agreeable laws for public good. A good read.

Saying that the removal of the provisional clause under contention will make no difference in child marriage issues or that there is no basis for the outcry as law is not directed at child marriage is -and I maintain-a surface view.

Removing this clause will not put an end to child marriage as rightly put but it would defend the Constitution’s position as a State that is non-tolerant to child marriages as it recognises the Child Rights Act and the section 227 of Acts supra.

Marriage does not take the ‘child-spirit’ out of the child. There is no “instant” translation into adulthood just because she has engaged in sexual intercourse and child birth. Moreover, a “married child” is still protected under some of the provisions of the Act. So why do we say that the two issues are mutually exclusive. I say they are not. A child is a child and must be protected all round. More on http://mobile.punchng.com/output.php?link=http://www.punchng.com/opinion/senator-yerima-and-the-marriage-age-controversy/

The continuous down-putting of the #girlchildnotbride just because it is not an issue of legalising child marriage but JUST giving her the right to renounce her citizenship is NOT JUST THAT. I support Mr Temple’s cause for a fierce push of the Child Rights Act 2003 to be made law in remaining states and amend the second schedule, part 1, item 61 of the Constitution.

There should not be sacred religions, customs and person(s).

NOW is the better time to fight for a cause and we must therefore propose amendments at all levels that leave no loopholes but tight ends.

This is a knitted fight and it is not for the wrong battle.

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