Only if everyone can see the world through the eyes of children.
Just before the school run a few weeks ago, Yeye just discovered another truth so she ran downstairs to check if I was aware.
“Mummy did you know that long time ago, girls were married off as early as 13?” Her eyes searching mines for reaction.
“I know.” I responded.
She thought that was the most terrible thing that could have happened to any girl. I nodded in agreement.
We both agree that civilisation and enforcement of rule of law has helped tremendously, that childbride is a thing of the past in many regions of the world.
Then she said “That must have been terrible for the boys too, being made to get married at a young age.”
Again I agreed but added that although boys were affected in some regions, girls are mostly affected.
I explained that in most cases girls are made to marry men that are older than them sometimes even older than their father. To this, she thought it was sickening, who doesn’t?
Yeye didn’t talk about all the physical and emotional pains that comes with child bride, because she has no clue. Her main worries was that the girls in this situation would not finish school and likely to miss out on a gap year.
She has a few gap year students as extra at her school helping on adhoc, to her it is the coolest thing to do to earn travel money before going to off college.
This was a topic that was covered at school all within age appropriate but what happens is that children get more curious about some subjects so this one did it for her.
She is aware that in some parts of the world childbride is still a big issue. So I ask if she remembers any of the countries where girls are still denied education and forced to marry. Quickly she listed two countries, Nigeria wasn’t one of them.
Poor girl did not know Nigeria is big in childbride, this broke her heart – here she sees herself and naively thought maybe one day this could be her fate too.
As much as I want to explain, I didn’t want to use culture/religion to justify those that approve childbride in Nigeria speaking to an eight year old, because to her mind, Nigeria with all its imperfections is a great place with cousins and grandparents that she has fond memories.
No way she’d believe a lawmaker such as Senator Yerima could be so boastful of being suitor of a child.
In the evening when I thought all was done and dusted, just about to sleep she asks:
“Mummy, if something were to happen to you and dad, who’s going to look after me and Aye”?
If I was any wise, I should have seen this coming and never avoided mentioning Nigeria and childbride together in a sentence. Hindsight 20/20.
As adult, whenever I come across #62MillionGirls who are not in school and likely to be forced into childbride, I know Nigeria tops the list in Sub-Saharan Africa. Afri-Dev info says 43% Nigerians, that bad?
Interesting that my daughter whose chance of being forced into childbride is remote, yet because she is a girl with a Nigerian blood running in her veins she feels deeply the pains of millions she may never meet.