An egg is fragile; it can be easily cracked or crushed. When put under the right temperature or warmth of its mother then it grows into a chick. A chick well cared for and protected from attacks of vultures then grows to become a mother hen or cockerel at the right time. There is a time for everything and all things become beautiful in their time goes the words of a “Holy Book”. Ever seen a chick ready to lay eggs? I don’t think so but some chicks prefer or are forced by circumstance to lay their eggs.
Ok what do I mean? Follow this story….
It is said that nothing is new under the sun so one shouldn’t be too shocked about certain things. But somethings just leave you bewildered. Such was a case I handled during a field work as a trainee Social worker. It was a quiet morning and case workers were sited waiting for clients to show up. We all hoped that cases of conflict handled under our watch for the day would be easily resolved. Usually it was always many sessions of counseling and intervention before certain cases were amicably settled that is if the parties involved are willing to cooperate and negotiate their rights.
On some days couples in conflict end up becoming rowdy and physical, then the social case worker would have to engage the police in the matter, that is after ensuring that you don’t get caught up in the exchange. Juvenile cases are also treated at the center but this one left me flabbergasted and annoyed.
A mother walks in with an allegation that a man had forcefully married her daughter not legally mind you. He impregnated her and took her into his home a midst the protest of her parents. The man in question whom I will call Akin was over 40years old. He was as old as the mother who came to the agency with the complaint. The young girl was a 15year old. I will call her Ramota, she was in Junior Secondary school or so, before being impregnated. It became a family round table discussion. Akin was asked to defend himself on the allegation that he had forcefully married the obviously under aged girl. What he said left me shocked…confused… and so much more. He had no idea that he had broken the Human Rights Law against child marriage which was punishable under the law. Akin explained to us that he started dating Ramota a year before that time. He usually see her returning from school and he liked her, so he asked her out. Ramota agreed and a relationship between the two began. When it resulted into a pregnancy he went to seek her hand in marriage from her parents . Ramota’s dad and mum were furious, they wanted her to finish schooling before any talks about marriage. They were even angrier that the father of her baby was a man old enough to be her father. At the time when the case was reported to the agency, the conflict had gone as far as both parties arresting each other with the police. Ramota’s parent had jailed Akin and had only agreed to bail after much pleading. Somehow he convinced the young girl who ends up moving in with him. In between all of that Akin decided to arrest Ramota’s parents accusing them of attempting to murder his baby. I don’t understand what kind of police officer will agree to arrest a parent of a minor when the man whom she was living with seem to have abducted her?! The whole thing was just a mess.
As social workers we then interviewed Ramota, she was unruly and choose to take sides with Akin. Bitterness was thick in the air. Ramota’s mother began to weep, she couldn’t believe that her child would support a man arresting her and locking her up. Her father too was quite upset. Akin was oblivious of the implication of his decision to forcefully house Ramota as a wife. He was guilty of abduction, sexual abuse, child marriage crime according to the law. When we started to explain things to him, he became afraid and numb.
How did they all arrive at the point? Ignorance, lack of proper parental care and monitoring, among other things are factors in this case. I felt sorry for the young girl Ramota who had stopped going to school because she was now a mother at 15year old. She was also reveling in the false safety of having a husband. It later turned out that Akin was in the habit of dating young girls prior to this case many of whom he had gotten rid of.
I don’t want to go into details about steps we took in intervening in this case but it is worrisome that a lot of young girls drop out of school because of early pregnancy. It is even more worrisome that parents are not doing enough to help give their children particularly the girl child a proper sex education. Graciously the parent’s of Ramota are kicking hard against giving her out in marriage to an older man unlike some others who force their girls into early marriage. Many of our girls particularly in public schools lack the necessary education and information about sex and men. Our girls need older mentors to guide them in the right part. They need more adults , parents who would speak up against child marriage and i turn protect them against this menace that stills their childhood and future. Their reproductive system is just not ready and more harm is been done to them biologically.Who would take up this challenge of preventing more “chicks” from laying eggs?
Photo Credit: Oyekunle Farms, Ibadan.