OUR Senate is in the caves. We have a duty to save it, from itself, and for Nigerians. How can the Senate in the 21st century be proposing that Nigerian girls can be married at an indeterminate age? The Senate is shamelessly broadcasting its determination to insert the profane provision into the Constitution.
Those limiting impacts of the Senate’s decision that girls are ready for marriage at any age they are married to abuse of the girl child massively miss the point about its implications for the future of our society.
What would a society be where children are meant to raise their own children? How can a girl by law attain womanhood once someone marries her? Is the Senate banning childhood for girls?
Our laws recognise adulthood at 18 – for rights of litigation, voting, and the definition of “minor”. A woman married at less than 18, according to the Senate, would be an “adult” by an act that has telling effects on the health of the girl child.
At what age would the “senate adult” have any legal rights? Is a definite age for adulthood unimportant? Is it not discrimination, contrary to Section 42 of the Constitution, to have different adulthood age for female and male Nigerians?
Under Section 29 (4a and 4b) of the Constitution, a woman shall not be qualified for marriage until she is 18 years of age. The Senate, on Wednesday, proposed to change that provision to ‘a woman is deemed to be of full age once she is married’, irrespective of the age she did so. What importance does this provision have for the welfare of the society? Is the provision for pleasures of some gentlemen, who delight in marrying children under guises of religion, culture and personal preferences?
A senator is facing charges for allegedly marrying an under-aged girl. Would the Constitution also be retroactive to protect him? Is the provision for those who harbour similar ambition?
Granted, most of the proposed changes in the Constitution are self-serving, it would be stretching things to shattering for Nigerians to permit this provision.
Further protections for the girl child are in Articles 21 (2) of the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child, Article 6 (b) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Section 21 of the Child’s Rights Act of Nigeria (2003), Article 18 (3) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Nigeria will be in perpetual danger if provisions like these are in the Constitution. It would damage our demographics beyond immediate contemplation. Nigerians have to stop this provision and other obscenities the National Assembly can insert into the Constitution.