In the News : 37 year Old Woman Gives birth to 38 Children!!ūüėĪ

A Ugandan Woman named Mariam Nabatanzi Babirye has the photo of herself, husband and some of her 38 Children splashed all over the pages of newspapers and social media.

As I stared at the photo of this “massive” family my jaws dropped open for a long whileūüėĪ. Being a mother myself I can’t even begin to imagine having to go through birth pains 5 times not to talk of 38 times!! It is simply writing a suicide letter in my opinion. Expert says that having too many children increases a woman’s health risk

Mariam’s story is that she was given off in marriage at age 12 to a 40 year old man. A child abuse case, I mean I don’t understand the excuse that it Is because parents are ignorant that makes it easy to give away a child in marriage. This has to stop!

I believe it is only by sheer Providence that Mariam survived these births which were mostly probably delivered by a local midwife before she finally arrived at a hospital. Now the world knows her story. Haaaaa it is simply not a funny matter to me!!

By age 40 possibly the ware and tear of her body may soon start manifesting in form of one ailment or the other.

Medically the reason she has had multiple births is because she is hyper-ovulating. Meaning that she her ovaries releases multiple eggs monthly.
They say ignorance is costly and it is not an excuse. I can’t help but think about the what ifs of Maria’s case.
If only she and her husband had known better ; if only a family member or friend or neighbor had pointed her in the way of a permanent modern family planning method solution. Seriously somebody should have told her that her ovaries and even the uterus could be removed.

Anatomy – medicine. com

Somebody said the children didn’t look hungry or under nourished in the photo. Maybe because their father is a farmer? How big is his farm to be able to feed a family of 40 including making extra money to cloth and send them to school?

My what ifs returns… Seriously having too many children puts the mother, children and even the father at risk. High blood pressure from not having enough to care for them will set in.

Another angle to this is that government needs to better equip and strengthen primary health centers in villages and communities. It is my business; it is your business to save a mother and child.

Maternal deaths can be prevented through adequate health education and family planning.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Advertisements

A butterfly that never flew: Day of the African Child

A story is told of a caterpillar which was at the pupa stage and had  metamorphosed into a beautiful butterfly inside the pupa. The formed butterfly struggled to get out of the pupa and it looked like it was having a hard time. Butterfly emerging

A man was watching as this butterfly tried to get out of its pupa; he couldn’t wait and so he decided to help this butterfly by cutting through the pupa. Out came this beautiful butterfly with colorful wings but because it came out before it was ready, that butterfly could not fly like other butterflies. What is the use of a butterfly that can not fly…it would soon be stepped on by other animals or someone.

Many African girls are married off before they are ready to fly. Child marriage is one child abuse that needs to be stopped. Imagine giving¬† one of these beautiful girls¬†away in marriage…!

????

It is simply trapping them and cutting them off before they are ready to fly beautifully.

The International Day of the African child is celebrated on 16th June every year. It is in commemoration of students murdered  in Soweto,1976 for protesting against poor quality of education. They also demanded to be taught in their local language.

????

This year’s theme: Conflicts and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all children’s rights. Every child has a right to be allowed to blossom fully into an adult in order have a fulfilled life.

????

Photo Credit: Butterfly life cycle

Adebisi Adetunji(c)

Children’s Day Special: What a Girl must need Know – She didn’t know Girls menstruated until age 30+

There are a number of things a growing child should know and the home is the one  place children are taught and equipped with skills they need to cope with life as adults.

Camera 360
A girl like any other girl

Imagine a girl never knowing about menstruation until she became 30+ years old. This is not fiction but someone’s real life’s story. She was given in marriage just about when she started to get to¬† puberty. This lady had her babies in quick successions and while breast feeding she never menstruated. And so at 30+ years old¬† she found herself bleeding and thought something was wrong. She became worried visiting different doctors. Finally a¬† doctor asked her about when her last menstruation was and she stared back looking blank. It was discovered that she never knew that girls, women menstruated.

Seriously?!!! It is a bewildering story to me…i just felt it was so unfair! First her childhood was stolen from her by marrying her off so quickly then she never even got to learn the lessons of what attaining puberty means. How in heaven’s name would she even be able to teach her own girls what it means to menstruate and attain sexual maturity?

As a  parent take your children through the signs of puberty and allow your child especially the girl child to enjoy the process of becoming an adult.

As a mum i am going to teach my girl (and my boy of course) all she needs to know about her body and puberty. We seriously need to do more to prepare children for life by communicating needed information. Sexuality education is important, be there for your children as they go through the process of puberty.

Help STOP CHILD MARRIAGE!!!

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

 

Forced marriage of a 14year old in Kano- Freed but is she truly free yet?

ESE

The story of 14 year old Ese who was forcefully married to Yunusa a young man in Kano is all over the media in Nigeria. Yinusa abducted her in¬†Bayelsa from her mum’s shop in 2015. Whether she was coerced or forcefully taken is still a matter yet to be unraveled. In my opinion even if she was coerced into following the young man it still does not exonerate Yunusa’s actions. The young girl was not matured enough to make such serious decision on marriage. I remember the case of a 14year old like Ese whom i was privileged to intervene in her case as a social worker. The man who married her was 45years old. He lured her with gifts and sweet words into marrying him without her parent’s consent. First he started by approaching her on her way from school. Soon an abnormal friendship blossomed between a 45year old and a 13 year old. This man got her pregnant and asked for her hand in marriage but of course her parents refused blatantly in annoyance. The girl one day ran away to the man’s house to start living with him and the matter became a matter for police intervention and the man was charged for abducting a minor and marrying her unlawfully. While trying to work on this case it was obvious the girl did not understand the implication of this on her future and well-being.

It is sad to note that Ese’s parent had sort help from appropriate authorities in order to secure the release of their¬† girl but had to wait until eight months later. Only through the cry of the media and other human rights voices raised was Ese finally freed. Now Nigerians are demanding sanctions for those who held 14 year old Ese Oruru captive for eight months according to the PUNCH¬† Newspaper of 1st March, 2016 pg 4.

I am happy we get to¬† see a day when girls like Ese are fought for and¬† protected by society’s one voice because that is what got her this freedom. There are many other young girls like her who have been forced into marriage through deception, pressure from their families to help sort out a financial mess; coercion, kidnapping and more.

The question on my mind is this, is Ese truly free?! What i mean by this is that Ese will need more than just her freedom physically from the clutches of Yunusa and a medical test. Attention should be paid to the effect this forced marriage and removal from her home must have on her emotionally and psychologically. If it  is not properly taken care of might mar her future.

The law says anyone who marries a child is liable to a fine of N500,000 or 5yearsimprisonment or both. Yes Yunusa and all those who helped him will hopefully be made to  face the wrath of the law to serve as deterrents to others but Ese need to undergo therapy and serious rehabilitation. This is because a child who is forced into marriage is no longer a child- her innocence has been stolen.

Take a look a few effects of forced marriage on Girls like Ese:

Her Childhood  and innocence is stolen

It truncates a girl’s education

She becomes economically dependent on her spouse which leaves in the state of poverty.

She is Isolated from  peers and friends

Becomes sexually active

Birth complications

She is exposed to sexually transmitted diseases

She can be psychologically affected: fear of men because of forced penetration during sexual intercourse

Exposure to violence as the spouse has power over her

Long life emotional and psychological trauma.

So now would Ese get all the help she needs to be fully rehabilitated emotionally and psychologically? Are her parents equipped to help her recover and move on with her life? We have to go beyond running Ese’s story in the media because it is a juicy human rights issue that can make all the¬† actors politically correct. Someone needs to help Ese beyond her freedom!!

Another thing that Ese’s story forces me to take a look at is the role of parents and every adult in protecting their children/girls from predators like Yunusa. I wondered whether her parents did not see the signs of Yunusa’s attempt at luring their daughter. As we put it where i come from, “what were they looking at” when the young¬† man abducted her. Every mother and father need to be more sensitive and do more in protecting their girls from predators like Yunusa. Our role as parents is not just to¬† provide food, shelter and other basic needs for our children. We are worldly wiser because we have been around longer than they are therefore we need to pay attention to signs from adults around us who could constitute harm to our kids. We need to continually dialogue with our children and warn them about people who could lure them into doing things that would mar their future.

As a mother my heart goes out to Ese, i truly hope that she would get all the help she needs to help her forge a better future. May her woes become her spring board to a greater and brighter future.

Please help share this post and tag it as: Help Ese get proper rehabilitation.

Adebisi Adetunji

 

 

 

 

Imagine a Chick laying an Egg

Egg
Freshly laid egg

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‚Äôt think so but some chicks prefer or are forced by circumstance to lay their eggs.

Chick
Chick

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‚Ķconfused‚Ķ 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôt 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.

Adebisi Adetunji

Sexual Rights of any Child

OLOLADE'S PICTURE 3
Art Work: Two Girls and a boy in a bedroom with their mother.

Every child has the right to sex education

Every child needs a listening and available parent

Every child has a right of protection from sexual predators

Every child needs a parent to watch out for house helps with a tendency to abuse that child

Every child has a right to be safe from an uncle, cousin or teacher’s sexual abuse

Every child deserve the right to be able to talk about any unwanted physical touch without being blamed for it

Every child has a right to be protected from pornography. I remember an adult who came on holiday’s to our home who made us watch pornography

Every child has a right to feel safe around her father without fear of being molested

Every child who has been  abused sexually deserve to be shown love and given the necessary therapy to overcome the trauma.

Every sexual predator of children must be made to  face the full consequence of this action under the law

Every child deserve to mature before being married off

Every child who has been sexually assaulted need the adults in their life to take care of the source of the assault quickly.

Stories of fathers who rape their daughters like this one: Father, 40, sexually abuses, 7-year-old daughter. is despicable, heartbreaking and needs to absolutely STOP! Lets join our voices in speaking and taking action against every child sexual abuse.

Photo Credit: Ololade Adetunji (An art done in Primary 4 at Graceful Oaks Nursery and Primary School, Ibadan)

Adebisi Adetunji

 

Aisha’s Wailing

A 1
A young distressed girl

She was innocent, young, and still had her life ahead of her. We were all teenagers then but i was older. Aisha( not real name) was barely 13years old but she was married to the man next door, our neighbour. Alhaji Bako(not real name) was as old as my father if not older. There were nights when we heard wailings coming from his flat. I used to wonder then but soon i got to know that it was Aisha’s wailing that filled the dead air at night. She cried every time her husband, Alhaji Bako had sex with her. My family felt so sad for her but we couldn’t do anything to save her. We were sojourning in that part of our country which believed in child marriage. Though we are all Nigerians but we were in the minority in terms of tribes residing in that city. Many times when we went shopping at the market in company of my sisters and mum, it was not uncommon to get marriage proposals from men in the market. My mother would tell them that in our own culture/tribe girls don’t marry until they attain tertiary education. Most of the men would exclaim in disbelief. As far as they were concerned we would be too old to get a husband by the time we concluded our University education. My father also responded to marriage proposals by¬† insisting that his girls must finish their tertiary education before thinking of marriage. He had dreams of his four girls becoming doctors, lawyers,accountants, etc.

I think my father found it most frustrating watching Aisha in her predicament with our neighbour. He couldn’t imagine any of his daughters being given out in marriage at such a tender age. So we watched on helplessly as she is forced to stay at home waiting for the return of her husband everyday while we went to school. Fate they say is something beyond human control. Life continued and we all minded our business until none of us even remember that Alhaji Bako was married to Aisha.

One Christmas period, as is our family practice to share food and drinks with our neighbour, i was asked to extend this love again to our neighbour Alhaji Bako. He opened his door and collected the food and drinks. At first i wondered why it wasn’t Aisha that came to the door as the dutiful wife but i couldn’t ask him. Alhaji thanked me and asked me to greet my parents. The next day while shutting our gate after my dad drove off in his car, Alhaji met me with a dish in his hands. He was about to return the dish which i had used the day before to give him food. I greeted him and extended my little hands to collect the dish and with a smile he handed over the dish in his large hands. Thanking i and my family, he suddenly asked if i had been the one that cooked the food. I told him that i had helped my mum made it. Alhaji, with a grin on his face said you must be a good cook. Instead of saying thank you i found myself asking about how his wife Aisha was doing. The grin left his face immediately and the words that flowed out of his mouth surprised me. “Aisha ran away”, he said. My young heart couldn’t feel sorry for him, so i just said, “oh”. Alhaji mistook it to mean that i was feeling sorry for him, so he tried to explain but his next words left me with anger. “Aisha was not a good cook”. Though young i wondered what he expected anyway. I mean how was a child expected to take up a role that my “adult mother”, sometimes find overwhelming? It just was sheer meanness to my young mind. This thought went through my mind as i stood looking into the eyes of Alhaji who was obviously expecting me to respond. I didn’t know what to say, so i just said my mum was waiting to send me on an errand and my small feet ran into the house.

This news about¬† Aisha’s escape from the claws of her much older husband became the topic of discussion in our home that night. We were all delighted but a lot of questions remained unanswered. Had she gone back to her parents? Not likely…where did she go to? Is she safe wherever she was? According to a UNICEF report world wide 1 in 4 women were married before 18.¬† Hence the large number of child marriage. This often results in early pregnancy which is why there is high rate of maternal mortality and Vesicovirginal Fistula(VVF) amongst such girls. Child marriage often compromises a girl’s development and advancement.

I am forced to think about what makes marrying a child appealing to men.¬† A chat between two men i sat beside in a taxi in my University days comes to mind. One of them was getting married and the excitement filled their voices. It was a marriage with another child. One of them with a wide grin on his face said that he prefers marrying a young girl who would begin her menstruation after he had married her.¬† I felt like giving him a slap across his face to wipe the silly grin. Why would a parent willingly send their precious underage jewel into what i feel is a lion’s den? It dawned on me that i and my sisters were few of the lucky girls who had people who protected us. My parents ensured that their dreams for their girls came to pass. We were given the chance to develop and advance in life. Today we are all married and didn’t have to wail like Aisha; we didn’t have to struggle with health problems and psychological trauma of marrying a man as old as our father. Today we are adults contributing meaningfully to our society and we are well equipped to take care of our parents in their old age.

Many countries were signatory to the International Child rights act law, how many are truly enforcing this law. In my own country Nigeria, some states are yet to pass the child rights into law and even in states where these rights are recognized, it is not enforced as it should. As we mark another day of the African child with the theme: Accelerating our collective effort to end child marriage in Africa the question is how serious are we? I believe ending child marriage starts with every parent. You can choose to go against culture and society to protect your girls like my father and mother did.

By Adebisi Adetunji