Muslim clerics, traditional leaders back campaign to end child marriage

The leaders made the pledge during a 2-day sensitisation workshop on ending Violence Against Children (VAC) organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in collaboration with UNICEF in Zaria.

Mallam Muhammad-Nasir Abubakar an Imam from Igabi local government said that Islam had defined the rights of children and also emphasized on the need to protect children against violence.
Early marriage actually happened during the time of prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, but times have changed; what happened in those days are different from today.
“We need to allow our children get basic education before sending them off for marriage and that will make them better mothers and care givers”, he said.
Aliyu Alhafiz-Muhammad, Imam of Dankande Juma’at Mosque said children who experienced violence in their childhood tend to become violent in adulthood.
He observed that even though it was reported in the prophet’s traditions to have married one of his wives when she was young, he allowed her to grow before taking her in.
He mentioned that the rampant cases of Vesicovaginal Fistula(VVF) was as a result of early marriage, as such should be discouraged.
In Islam if something is not pronounced as compulsory, then you have the right to do what you understand and what would bring you peace of mind,” he emphasised.
Alhafiz-Muhammad urged parents to separate their room from that of their children, saying that some children learn sexual activities from their parents and as a result try to practice it with their siblings or other children.
On his part, Malam Ibrahim Sayyadi, deputy Imam, Barnawa juma’at mosque stated that children belonged to all and as such should be defended by all at all times.
He noted that girls that were married at very young age tend to forfeit both Islamic and western education and were more likely to seek divorce when they get matured.
Sayyadi pledged to step down the message learned in the workshop to Islamiyya school teachers, the Imams to use in sermons and other platforms to sensitize the public on the impact of violence against children.

Similarly, some traditional leaders at the workshop commended the organizers, saying it was an eye opener on the situation of VAC.
Alhaji Muhammad Usman, the district head of Rigasa said that he had learned about the girl child maturity and development and was convinced that the best time to marry off girls was when they reach 18 years of age.
The district head said he would use his influence as a community leader to preach against use of physical violence in correcting children in his community.
Musa Isah from Jema’a Local Government said, “it is not stated anywhere in the Holy Qu’ran to marry a child and make them suffer life threatening diseases”.

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