COMPLIMENTS of the season to you, highly esteemed primary and secondary caregivers and our precious children, who may sneak in to read this piece.
BEFORE embarking on this journey of serious advocacy(as my calling and nature has been for the better part of my adult life), at this time of the year, I was caught between two opinions: The first is to refuse to interrupt your well-deserved festive mood and give rest to the burden of my heart to plead the cause of the group of children, whose immense suffering has occupied my conscience and consciousness in the past weeks. The second is to go ahead and do this advocacy all the same despite the peculiarity of the season.
I chose the latter because this Gospel According to Child Protection must be preached in season and out of season. There are many precious children, who have never celebrated any festival since they were in the womb and who will again not celebrate this next one. Many more are not even aware that there is anything called festive season, not to talk of celebrating one.
I shall be closing out on my advocacy for the year, spending this Sunday and the next to call attention to the plague of ‘Child Marriage’ and ‘Child Prostitution.’ 700 women alive today were said to have been ‘married’ before 18 and more than one-third are said to be less than 15 years old when they were ‘married.’
My advocacy today touches more on the use of terminologies, known as ‘Child Marriage’ and ‘Child Prostitution.’ I strongly believe that the use of the foregoing terminologies shields the evil of both practices and gives a sense of legitimacy to the practices.
I beg to submit today that by the universally acceptable definition of marriage as voluntary union between a man and a woman, it is impossible for a child to marry or be married. Therefore what we all erroneously refer to as ‘Child Marriage’ today is nothing but what I call ‘Domesticated Child Sexual Abuse or Molestation’
I am aware that there is a minority of people, who for personal gains or parochial argument from the perspective of religion, who are of the view that a child(any one below 18) could marry or be married. But it is high time we make it clear that such position does not pass the test of universality of the age-long description of the sacred institution of marriage. Besides, considering the dire and bizarre consequences of the practice forcing a child into sexual relationship with an adult in the name of marriage, it is clear that such is against natural order of creation.
I am also aware that the campaigners against this practice may use the terminology of ‘Child Marriage’ for ease of understanding. But my challenge is that we cannot sacrifice truth and universal definitions on the altar of ease of understanding.
A child cannot be said to have married. Every child, who is in the house of a man or woman today is not in marriage. She or he is suffering from what I have chosen to refer to as ‘Domesticated Child Sexual Abuse or Molestation.’
Permit me to conclude today by pointing to the basic ingredients of a proper marriage: The first is capacity. Capacity here refers to age or maturity. In this instance, this is a function of number. Any body below 18 years doesn’t have capacity to enter into marriage. It is important to note that though capacity is measured by age, it also speaks to psychological and physiological development of the parties. The second ingredient is Consent. This refers to mutual agreement to enter into a marriage relationship. Even where parties pass the test of capacity, they must of necessity consent to the relationship. Consent here must be an informed consent and not coaxed or induced. Upon contracting a marriage, there is what is known as consummation of the marriage. This simply refers to sexual intercourse between a man and a woman, who are married. Under the law, a child does not have capacity to give consent to sex voluntarily or induced. Therefore a child cannot consummate a marriage and consummation goes to the root and validity of a marriage relationship. Any sexual relationship with a child in the name of marriage is nothing but blatant abuse and violation of the innocence of the precious child, girl or boy.
Permit me to conclude today that it is high time that we who campaign for the protection of our precious children from all forms of abuse go back to the drawing board, with the aim of defining the scope of our social interventions and most importantly, the right language with which to accurately capture same. It is my belief that traditional definitions cannot help to do justice the cause of protecting our precious children.
Permit me to wrap up my thoughts today by declaring once again that there is no such thing as ‘Child Marriage.’ ‘Domesticated Child Sexual Abuse or Molestation,’ my coinage, in an attempt to name this practice for what it is, may not describe same fully. But it is a call to all genuinely interested defenders of the rights of our precious children to take another but careful look at our noble causes and the terminologies we employ. My challenge to us today is that we must not rest until we find terminologies, which are in compliance with the BEST INTEREST OF OUR PRECIOUS CHILDREN. Marriage is a sacred and spiritual relationship and it is not meant for children.
Next Sunday I shall deal with the issue of ‘Child Prostitution.’
Thank you for reading…Do have an INSPIRED week. I am Taiwo AKINLAMI and I remain Sober on my knees on this LORD’S day.
W: http://www.taiwoakinlami.com T: 08033620843 T: @taiwoakinlami B: http://www.taiwoakinlami.wordpress.com