“My name na Hadiza, I be thirty years, I don born seven pikin, and one of my pikin don born so them they call me Kaka. Last week na hin my mai’gida pursue me from our house because of say I no wan carry belle again. I don do family planning and he no know. I lie for am say my belle no fit carry pikin again but e no gree. I don tire”. “I don come to beg the government and the people for Sokoto state make them help me”. “Na only primary school I finish that na why I no fit go they find work for office but I sabi cook, clean house, wash cloth come iron am and I de sabi weave hair well well”. Tears rolled down my eyes as I heard her speak. How can a grandmother to one and a mother to seven suddenly become homeless and a wife to none just because she refused to get pregnant? How wicked people have gradually become. I gave her some water and asked her how a thirty year old woman could have given birth to seven children in a short period of time. Like did she start giving birth at ten ( I said out loud, in my mind), or did she adopt them? She replied and told me the story of her life. My secretary had to rewrite it in English because we couldn’t just publish the whole story in pidgin. Here is her story…
Hadiza was the first daughter of her late parents. Her parents passed away when she was 7years old leaving her with two younger brothers. Her uncles shared them amongst themselves and Hadiza was unlucky enough to be sent to live with her spinster aunt in kaduna. Her brothers both stayed in Kano where they all grew up and they were sent to islamic schools to become educated in the ways of Islam. She never saw or heard from them, again. She moved in with her aunt and started her journey to doom. She became the cleaner, the wash woman, the house help and the punch bag. Her aunt made her work for a whole year before enrolling her into school. And when she eventually did, she made her work for her school fees by sending her to sell satchel water in a football field close to their house. By the time Hadiza was 12, she had become a beautiful girl and her aunt thought to marry her out so she could do away with paying her school fees and also tolerating her.
Hadiza was betrothed to the second man who came for her hands because he was educated and richer than the first one and she was so happy to leave her wicked aunts house that the perks of getting married was the least of her problems. She just assumed she was changing houses and jobs and what wouldn’t a tired 12 year old girl give for some good food, rest and long hours of sleep. Mallam Sanni (her mai’gida) lived in Sokoto so she moved there with him after they got married. By then she was 13 and done with her primary school education. He promised to further her education and to also make her visit home at least once in a year. That was the beginning of the rest of her “world of a lie” life.
Her first sexual experience was worse than the subsequent once. She was molested, bruised, torn, and partially raped. She was made to believe that it was always like that every first time but she later got to realize that it was always going to be like that, every time. Her husband was bigger than her in everything and she was just too small to fight him off. Sex was daily for him during their first year of marriage. He had a routine and she had to follow it judiciously. “He walks into their room and announces his sexual intentions. She goes into the bathroom, takes her bath and comes back to the bedroom with only her wrapper. He takes off his cloths, lay beside her naked and reaches for her bre….. well, we all know what goes on after that but from everything she explained, foreplay wasn’t in their routine. This went on for a while and she finally got pregnant and the sex stopped. Her first and only daughter was birthed when she (Hadiza) was 3months shy of her 15th birthday and barely 11months after she started her menstruation cycle. Giving birth was always done by a midwife in their house and her aunt came for a week only to help her, after that, her mother-in-law moved in and took over. As soon as her first baby was 5months old, her husband’s sexcapades started all over again, 5 to 6 times a week. Her mother-in-law passed on after her fourth child so she was left alone to take care of her fifth. She got a live in elderly woman (Jumai) to assist her with her bunch of kids before the gave birth to the sixth and seventh child. Her husband married out their first child, Hajara (the month she started her menstruation), at the age of 14 to a younger and better man and she bore a son a year after. It was Jumai who told her about family planning and she took her there some months ago. Her husband made sure he provided for his children by sending them to school, feeding them and clothing them but that was all. He barely gave her enough money to include herself from the catering allowance. She could only save about N142, 500 which she had in cash with her because she didn’t have a bank account. Her husband chased her out some days ago because his several attempts to get her pregnant again had failed and he was worried and impatient. He said he wanted 3 more daughters from her. She lied to him that she lost her womb due to some infections she had via him after she birthed the seventh child and the midwife said she couldn’t give birth again. She was tired of going through the torment and suffering alone and he was having none of it. Said he couldn’t leave with a barren woman at home and he was going to replace her if she didn’t give him another child.
To cut the long story short, he threw her out after the seventh child turned 2 and she was directed to my NGO by Jumai, for help. How can an educated man descend so low, so so low and decide to imprison a girl of 13years old. A girl young enough to be his child. He sleeps with her bruising her fragile body with his huge manly parts. Early marriage has never been supported by me. A girl should be old enough to chose a husband for herself. She shouldn’t be forced into any kind of union with any man, no matter how matured she is/looks. Age also matters too. A girl of 18 or 19 who has gone through the four walls of high school is still too young to be betrothed to any man, talk more of a child of 13. Early marriage is a thing of the past. No man, educated or not should be encouraged to patronize the idea of getting married to a child. He should wait till she is old enough to understand the “crux of a marriage” before engaging her in anything/way.