Oh it's a forbidden word, such a dirty word, you dare not utter it. What word comes to your mind? Oh honey it's not that, it's 'feminist'. To be African and utter such a word earns you nasty looks, disgust and disrespect. It is after all another poisonous Western value that Africans should not identify themselves with. I remember when a friend showed me a video by Chimamanda Adichie, "we should all be feminist", and it moved something deep in my core. She spoke of a feminism that sought equality and fairness in the world, not the misguided idea of feminism that portrays women in an angry, masculine way. Not the type of feminism that allows for neither disrespect nor the type who don't wear bras. Not the type of feminism that thinks that we can live in a world without men, because as much as we would like that, we can't. No a feminist should be someone who strives for equality and equal opportunities for genders, male and female. A woman's place is not in the kitchen, you did not create therefore you are in no place to say where she can or cannot live the rest of her life. So of course I have decided to associate myself with the 'F' word because sometime this month, our duly 'elected' Nigerian Senate decided to amend the constitution, changing the minimum age qualification for marriage from 18 to and I quote, "a woman is deemed to be "full of age" when she is married irrespective of the age she did so". Does it not repulse you? Does it not stir up anger in your heart to think that grown up men would use such a vague language in something as important as a girl's future? A language open and prone to abuse, leaving young girls fully exposed to child marriages and abuse.
Should a young girl, 9 years of age be snatched away from the bosom of her mother into a husband's household when she is not yet ready or fully grown up? Should she be forced to abandon her childhood, her education, the life she knows to cater to a man's needs? Suppress her talents and gifts to prepare meals all day, while a baby suckles at her breast, breasts that haven't even bosomed yet? Should she not know the true meaning of life because she has become a caged bird? Should her innocence be taken away from her before she has fully enjoyed it? Should her life end when it should have only begun? To be thrown into such a huge responsibility one day, when just yesterday her biggest problem was finishing an assignment? Marriage is a blessed union between a man and a woman not a man and an underage girl. She should not be forced if she is not ready. She belongs in the streets dancing and swaying her young hips to the rhythm of the drum. She belongs in a class being shaped into a future doctor, engineer, lawyer or leader of tomorrow. She belongs in her father's home, still growing up and learning. She is a child not a bride so excuse me while I chant it from the highest of mountains, at the loudest of my voice, with every breath and strength in me till the veins in my neck pop and the rage burns in my eyes, CHILD NOT BRIDE! CHILD NOT BRIDE! CHILD NOT BRIDE!
Do not deprive our young girls of their youthfulness, potentials, dreams and aspiration to fulfil greedy and selfish desires. Let our young girls live; she is a child not a bride. Just because it is legal does not mean it is morally right. She is just as important as your daughter or your sister or yourself. Sign the petition to bring this barbaric act to an end and save a little girl's childhood.