THE GIRL CHILD
The girl-child is a biological female offspring from birth to eighteen (18) years of age. This is the age before one becomes a young adult. This period covers the crèche, nursery or early childhood (0-5 years), primary (6-12 years) and secondary school (12-18 years).
During this period, the young child is totally under the care of the adult who maybe her parents or guardians and older siblings. It is made up of infancy, childhood, early and late adolescence stages of development.
This is when the child is malleable, builds and develops her personality and character. She is very dependent on the significant others, those on whom she models her behaviour, through observation, repetition and imitation. Her physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional developments start and progress to get to the peak at the young adult stage.
CAUSES OF GIRL- CHILD MARRIAGE
The girl-child marriage is also known as Early marriage. According to the Nobles Hour, 2019, the causes include but not limited to the following:
Tradition and Custom: The perception was handed over from the old to a new generation who were receptive of that, and did not crave much for change even in the 21st Century.
Illiteracy: In most cases, people don’t give what they don’t have, and therefore most parents could not advise the girl- child or see the need on the why she should be an adult before getting married.
Cultural Belief: It has become a normal way of life in some areas. People believe so much that once a female child starts seeing her menstrual cycle, she has qualified/riped enough to sleep with a man(marriage /friendship). To most parents, especially in rural communities, the joy of having a very pretty, beautiful and smart looking female child is giving her out to a man early enough so that the child will not bring shame to the family. Most who indulge in this take it as family pride. Sign of responsible and good family.
Poverty may force parents to give out the girl-child to marriage earlier so as to ease their burden on the care and welfare of the child. The in-laws are expected to come to the serial problems of the family.
Perceived Women Education as a Waste: Some tribes still see female education as a waste. Therefore, Training a girl for prospective other family’s advantage is a cause.
Wrong preservation of Family Pride and Value: Most parents value it but they forget It is not only by early marriage that family pride and value could be preserved. And that in most cases it is counterproductive as most of these marriages don’t last and lead to promiscuity.
Bandwagon and Localised Trend Effects: Some girl-child feel ashamed as they are mocked even by their parents that their age mates are already married. The fear of such insults makes them grab any available man to join the league of those who are married.
Gender Discrimination: The girl-child in most African society is not more or equally preferred to the male, and hence the societal value make them feel so and behave as such even when they know what is good for them.
HOW TO STOP GIRL- CHILD MARRIAGE
Wonderful solutions were proffered by the nobles, but not limited to the following: According to the Holy Bible, Proverbs 22:6, that says, “Train up a child in the way she should go; even when she is old she will not depart from it.” Charity they say begins at home. Therefore the campaign should start from you and me, then to our relations.
Robust Campaign Against Girl- Child Marriage: We must try at all times to establish a very good relationship with our daughters and younger sisters.
Sex Education in Families and Schools: It should be a bold step to teach and discuss sex with the girl-child to know the value of being an adult before they can accept to get married. They may help to fight it to a stop by awakening their consciousness that they can reject it because not all of them are happy with it. They in most cases go with the will of their parents.
Encourage Parents to Painstakingly Train the Girl-child: Attending higher institution will help the girl-child to realise her potentials and much later will be better and a more responsible mother.
Whereupon parents can’t afford their girl-child education, after their secondary school education, they can be enrolled in skill acquisition programs till they are adults and mature to help themselves and help the husband with the acquired skills.
Parents must Prove to be Responsible Parents by not yielding to ordinary societal pressure and do wrong things
Adult males should stop patronising girl- child marriage. If they cease to be promoters, parents who indulge in forcing out their children would take dressing.
Value reorientation for the Parents: Parents need also to be educated on the dangers of marriage on the girl-child