Sunday 24th September, 2017
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Early girl-child marriage, VVF: The burden before northern clerics, leaders

Early girl-child marriage, VVF: The burden before northern clerics, leaders

The Executive Director of the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA), Babatunde Osotimehin, took a massive campaign against early girl-child marriage and the need to allow young girls stay in school so as to attain their full potentials to some states in the north, Hassan Zaggi reports.

Few days ago, the United Na­tions Population Fund (UNF­PA), launched a massive advoca­cy visits to three northern states to advocate that young girls be allowed to stay in school so that they can attain their full poten­tials.
This will also reduce the inci­dences of early marriage and its associated health consequences, prominent among them is, Vesi­co Virginal Fistula (VVF).
The three states include Kano, Kaduna and Borno .
The visit, many keen observ­ers believe is timely because, the 2013 National Demograph­ic Health Survey indicated that only 4% of girls complete sec­ondary school in the North and over 71% of women in the north-west zone are unable to read and write.
These poor literacy indicators are believed to have fueled the high rates of maternal and child deaths and illness in the region.
The survey highlights linkages between the level of education of the mother and her correspond­ing health behavior. The low re­tention of girls in school contin­ues to serve as one of the social determinants of poor adolescent health outcomes.
Kano State was the first port of call, where, apart from the vis­it to the Governor of the State, Abdullahi Ganduje, by the UN­FPA team which was led by its Executive Director, Babatunde Osotimehin, the Sarkin Kano, Muhammadu Lamido Sanusi II was also honoured as the Grand Patron for Adolescent Health and Family Planning.
Speaking during his inves­titure, the Sarkin Kano, in his usual manner of saying the raw truth to powers that be no matter how they feel, bluntly told north­ern political, religious and tradi­tional leaders to be ready to an­swer deep questions from God for the current situation of wom­en in the region.
“It is important that as Mus­lim leaders in the northern part of the country, we should criti­cally look at the condition of our people and the trust given to us by God to protect the lives and property and dignity of the pop­ulace.
“We should ask ourselves, can we be able to answer the ques­tions that God will ask us con­cerning the current condition of Muslim women in our region?
“Every day we hear that our people take their adolescent daughters between the age of 11 and 13 and give them out for marriage.
“When she wants to deliver, no proper care, and she ends up with VVF and leaking urine. Ei­ther on the process of delivery, she died or she delivered the baby and it dies.
“If we raise the issue, our peo­ple will say that is the way God wants it, but we know that God does not hate us. Why is it that it is only in our region that high number of women die during child birth. Why is it that this VVF is predominant in our part of the world? And why is it that it is in our region that deaths are rampant?,” the Sarkin Kano que­ried.
The royal father warned lead­ers at all levels in the north that if they fail to take urgent measures to provide qualitative education for both the boys and girls, dan­ger lies ahead for the region.
According to him: “The edu­cation of both boys and girls is very important, if not, we have seen what is happening with us in some states in the north. Our children have become terror­ist, taking hard drugs including married women with no educa­tion.
“If we fail to take seriously the education of our boys and girls, these security challenges we are having in the north will be worst in the years ahead.”
While painting a gloomy pic­ture of the situation, Lamido Sa­nusi said: “In Nigeria, we have a population of over 170 million, half of this population around 70 million are not more than 19 years old. For this reason, in the next 20 years if we are still alive, in Nigeria, we will have youth within the range of 20-40, at least 80 million which is equiv­alent to the total population of Germany currently, and most of these population is in the north and without education, how are we going to do with them, both men and women?”
He called on leaders of the re­gion to support any organization either local or foreign that vol­unteered to support in provid­ing education and other servic­es to young people in the north.
While accusing the elites in the country for double standard, the royal father said: “Most of our leaders in this country don’t give their daughters out for mar­riage until they finish universi­ty and even high degrees. There is no any leader in this coun­try that will remove his daugh­ter from the primary school and give her out for marriage.
“Any girl-child that is born in Kano state or in any part of the country, whom, we, the leaders, allow her to be removed from school and given out in mar­riage, God will ask us.”
He, however, called on the heads of United Nations agen­
 cies that they should put into consideration the traditional and religious belief of any peo­ple before bringing any pro­gramme aimed at improving their lives.
Speaking at the investiture ceremony, the UNFPA Exec­utive Director, Professor Ba­batunde Osotimehin, said that the royal father was honoured as Grand Patron for women and children’s health for “standing up for what is right and true to championing the cause of wom­en and girls and for demonstrat­ing passion for uplifting the lives of the people.”
He explained that his agency gives greater attention to young girls because they are more like­ly to face violence, early mar­riage and early childbearing, child labour, female genital mu­tilation and other undermining practices that threaten their lives and health.
He, however, insisted that “how we invest in and support women and girls today will de­termine what our world will look like years from now.”
Speaking earlier during a courtesy visit to the Governor, the UNFPA Executive Director, disclosed that VVF is a symptom of a failed system, insisting that women should not be allowed to be affected by the condition..
He called on governments at all levels to work towards getting girls go and to stay in school and make sure they don’t get married early.
“I know this is pretty difficult, sometimes cultural/ religious thing. The truth of the matter is a girl who goes and stays in school until she is around 18 is a better than a girl who has a child at 10 years old and she will sur­vive, the baby will survive and do well and she also will do bet­ter,” he noted.
On his part, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Abdul­lahi Ganduje, vows to continue to work closely with the UNF­PA, because, according to him, it is aware of the terrain in Nigeria and also know what to do in or­der to reduce and eradicate the menace of VVF and other health and social problems that are typ­ical of developing countries like Nigeria.
“We understand that in order to reduce this issue of VVF, we have to improve our health facil­ities. Luckily enough, we have a tripartite agreement with some foreign organisations including Bill and Melinda gates and Dan­gote foundation.
“That gave us the opportuni­ty to improve our health facili­ties in the rural areas so that our expectant mothers have access to them.


“We have adopted the training of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs). Last year, we trained 1,936 TBAs, we have 484 po­litical wards and we took 4 to each political ward and provid­ed them with kits and they are assisting us at the grassroots and also follow up in the hospi­tals and we use them to collect data on health issues,” the gov­ernor explained.