SOME abominable practices that people dismiss as belonging to the Stone Age from time to time rear their ugly head to the shock of society that would have fooled itself into the belief that it has made giant strides in social development.A� One such practice is that of child marriages that occupied many pages in the Press last year and continues to occupy many discussions.
What makes the practice of child marriage difficult to detect is that families conspire to marry off a minor for material benefit. Also, being a minor, the child has no one to turn to when the whole family prescribes a course of action, even when it seems obvious that that course is illegal.
Elsewhere in this edition we carry an article of a teenager that was married off at 13 years six years ago and was now battling to assert her rights, against a whole family that wants her to go back to her aunta��s husband and bear children for him.
Circumstances around the case are that when the family discovered that the aunt, who has business interests with her husband, could not bear children, the niece was brought in to assist her.
However, apart from the arrangement being illegal and amounting to rape of the minor, it would seem the families approved of the arrangement.
The young woman that has taken the family to court to resist their attempts to send her back to what she says is an abusive relationship could be one of the few that has such bravery, and whose story we shall come to know of.
We wonder how many more girl children were married off under such and many other circumstances to elderly men, exposing them to disease and many other social problems, inheritance issues being some of these.
Needless to say, some of these men are literally getting away with murder by not being charged for rape, which is what the relationship amounted to basically.
We are happy that the law has now made it sufficiently clear that young women under 18 cannot get married legally.
However, the dark cloud of archaic traditions looms large over such legislative remedies, especially where whole institutions such as families choose to go against the law, all in the name of tradition.
Interestingly, it would appear after at least five years, the young woman, just like her aunt, is yet to fall pregnant, raising questions on the effectiveness of such remedies to infertility.
Young women should stand their ground and resist child marriage, or any forced marriage. It is not easy when families put pressure on the girl child, but for the practice to stop, it will take women of courage.