Groups of women comprising the Association of Widows and Less Privileged Empowerment and the Hausa-Fulani Women Group of Nigeria yesterday picketed the offices of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) over what they termed the undue attempt to prosecute Senator Ahmed Sani Yarima, accused of marrying an underaged girl. The women said they are against the Child Rights Act because it is a bill that does not guarantee the future of the average Muslim girl. Rita Audu, the president of the widows association, said the reasons why girls in the North are being married out early is because of the fear of HIV/AIDS and other related diseases that these girls might contract if they are left on their own. She added that Yarima had been nice to the widows right from when he was the governor of Zamfara State, and it is unfair that people are spoiling his name all over the country over his marriage to his 13-year-old wife. “There is nothing wrong with getting married at an early age. Most of us were married between the ages of 10-12, and nothing has happened to them. We didn’t contract VVF. What is being done is that your husband will not touch you until you are mature enough. Some girls are being kept in their parents houses until they reach the age of 17 or 18, which is the appropriate age for a husband to start having sex with his wife according to Islam. “We have been to Egypt to see the girl, and she is in good hands, under the custody of her parents, until she attains the right age before Yarima can touch her,” Audu said.
Addressing the women, NAPTIP’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Simon Chuzi Egede, e said the agency had received their grievances and would look in the matter. He said Nigeria is governed by rules and laws, made by the National Assembly and NAPTIP is only enforcing the laws, which child rights acts is among. “So, if there are any complains, they should be made to the National Assembly since they were the ones that made these laws.”