By DAUD OLATUNJI, Abeokuta
HUNDREDS of underage children in Ogun State recently embarked on a protest against the Senate endorsed controversial child marriage bill, vowing to go on hunger strike if the lawmakers failed to retrace their steps and jettison the idea.
Leading her colleagues drawn from different parts of the state, 13-year-old Pascalyne Ogbuli, submitted thus: “We do not wish to grow up and tell our young daughters that we were forced into early marriage and that same fate awaited them because there is a law that supports it.
“It is shameful that the Senate with people that children respect and aspire to be like, could even consider a law saying our childhood and innocence could be taken away, and education destroyed in exchange for a bride price, and that we (kids) could be sold as slaves to early marriage.
“To this end, we, the Nigerian children, demand a national apology from the Nigerian Senate for belittling our child right and wilfully deliberating and considering the stamping of early marriage in Nigeria. And if we die telling our leaders that our education and our future count more than an early marriage, so be it”. Pascalyne spoke on behalf of other children during a press conference they addressed in Abeokuta under the banner of Volunteer Team of Children.
As part of their war against child marriage, the children said they have produced a film titled, ‘Yerima: Diary of a Child’ which will be shown throughout the country to express their opposition and expose the danger of early marriage.
According to Pascalyne: “It was during the making of the film against early child marriage that many of us realised the cruelty of early child marriage and its humiliating impact and consequences on children, especially the girl-child”.
Producer of the film, Femi Olabode-George, who doubles as Chairman, UTV Media, informed that it was not easy producing the film. According to him, 35 children participated in the production, adding that he took up the challenge to embark on the project when contacted by volunteer artistes led by Mrs Omowunmi Freeman
He disclosed that the 82 minutes film will premiere soon in Abeokuta, before onward transmission to all other parts of the country. He called on parents, guardians, children and other stakeholders to come out en masse to watch the film.