Bayelsa community claims 'child marriage' was a cultural practice to save girl's life

Bayelsa community claims 'child marriage' was a cultural practice to save girl's life

The father of a four-year-old girl, who is said to have married a 54-year-old man in December 2023, claims that the purported marriage was a traditional practice carried out to save the girl's life.

The child's parents and three others, including her husband, the supreme ruler of the community, have appeared before the Bayelsa State Government's Gender Responsive Initiative Team, GRIT, in connection with the alleged child marriage.

DAILY POST has learned that in separate submissions to the expert team, they all maintained that the so-called marriage was a traditional practice and was done to save the girl's life. .

According to them, this is a cultural practice of Akedei, an Oyakiri community in Sagbama Local Government Area, where if a girl child is constantly ill, the man is required to pay a symbolic amount to save the girl from death. It was said that there was.

They said that what happened between the 4-year-old girl and 54-year-old Akposu Napoleon was not a marriage, but an Ija cultural practice called “kolipamo”.

They believe that whenever a traditional ceremony called “kolipamo'' is performed, the man who pays the “token'' is not required to take the girl as his wife, but that the girl will marry a man of his choice when she comes of age. He pointed out that there was no hindrance. Marriage age.

According to them, this ritual can be performed by both boys and girls.

The girl's father, Morris Aboma, who spoke in Ijah, said his daughter was often fatally ill and, according to Akedei tradition, the only way to save her life was for the man to pay symbolic money. He added that this is true. This price had nothing to do with real marriage.

Her alleged husband, Napoleon, said, “Now I regret what I did just to save my child's life. She is no longer sick. That tradition has continued for a long time.”

The only difference in their case, he said, was that so-called marriages were not often “celebrated as much as hiring a canopy and a sound system and cooking a meal.”

He added: “She told me that if I didn't listen to her, she would die, so I had to find the money because it was a life-threatening situation.''

In his submission, the supreme ruler of Akedei community, His Highness Moneyman Binabo, said that he heard about the marriage in the community during the Christmas festivities, but the DPO of Sagbama Police Station said that the person who got married in Akedei He said he did not know the full details until he was asked to introduce them. Local community/community.

Binabo said he had to invite the girl's parents to get detailed information about what happened on December 27th. But what surprised him, he said, was that the girl requested to cook the food and hire her canopy and sound system. to celebrate the ceremony.

The supreme ruler also stated that a man who pays a token to a girl is not expected to take the girl home as his wife, but to marry another person of his choice when the girl is of marriageable age. He declared that he could not prevent him from doing so. .

The Bayelsa State Coordinator of the CPN Child Protection Network, Mr. Kizito Anda, and the Bayelsa State Chairman of BANGOF, Mr. Taritei Boko, have learned from the submissions of the girl’s parents, her alleged husband and the supreme ruler of the Akedei community. He said it was not true that this happened. Although it is a formal marriage, it is a cultural custom. They also concluded that from the information they had gathered, the girl was not sexually abused and her child was living a normal life independent of the 54-year-old man, as confirmed by Dr. James Omietimi of the GRIT office. He pointed out that

Immediately after the meeting, Chairman of the Bayelsa State Gender Responsive Initiatives Team, Dise Ogbise Godi-Harry, said the deliberations were candid and fruitful and would provide further updates as the Bayelsa State Ministry of Women Affairs takes decisions. I promised to do it. children and social development and other stakeholders;

“As I have said before, the Bayelsa State Government is child-friendly and will do whatever it takes to protect all children in the state from all forms of abuse,” she said.


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