Community News

We Married Out Our Four-Year-Old Girl As Tradition to Save Her Life – Parents

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A parent who gave out a four-year-old child to a 54-year-old man in Bayelsa community, has stated that they married out their girl to fulfil a traditional rite to save the child’s life.

According to them, the marriage, conducted in the Akeddei community in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa, was a spiritual ceremony aimed at breaking a supposed betrothal from their “previous lives.”

Following public outcry, the girl’s parents, the 54-year-old man, the traditional ruler, and others involved were summoned by the Bayelsa Government.

Appearing before the state government’s Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT), which included Dr Dise Ogbise-Goddy and Kizito Andah, the parents and other participants explained their roles in the alleged child marriage.

They contended that the ceremony, termed “Koripamo,” was a cultural practice in the Akeddei community to save a girl child’s life if she frequently fell ill.

They emphasized that it was not a formal marriage but a traditional practice involving a symbolic payment to prevent the child from dying.

The community representatives clarified that the man who paid the symbolic token was not under obligation to take the girl as his wife, and the ritual wouldn’t prevent the girl from marrying anyone of her choice in the future.

They underscored that “Koripamo” could be performed on both boys and girls according to Ijaw tradition.

The father of the child, Mr. Morris Aboma, explained in the Ijaw language that his daughter was always on the verge of death due to illness.

According to Akeddei tradition, the only way to save her life was for a man to make a symbolic payment, emphasizing that it had nothing to do with an actual marriage.

The “groom,” Mr Akpos Napoleon, expressed regret over the public outcry, asserting that he participated only to save the child’s life, and the tradition had been ongoing without previous elaborate celebrations.

Napoleon lamented, “But since she says if I don’t do what she says she will die, I had to look for money and do it since it involves life; as it is, I am frustrated by this whole issue.”

The paramount ruler, Chief Moneyman Binabo, clarified that what occurred in Akeddei was not a formal marriage but the fulfillment of cultural practice.

He was surprised by the girl’s demand for an elaborate ceremony and emphasized that the man who paid the token was not expected to live with the girl as a husband.

The representatives from GRIT confirmed that the event was not a formal marriage but a cultural practice.

They noted that the girl had not been sexually abused, and a medical professional at the GRIT office affirmed the child’s emphasized conditions without a relationship with the 54-year-old man.

The GRIT chairman, Dr Ogbise-Goddy, promised further updates, stating that the Bayelsa State Government, being child-friendly, would review the situation and take appropriate action to protect the children from perceived abuse.

“As I had stated earlier, the Bayelsa State Government is child-friendly and will do anything to protect all the children of the state from any form of perceived abuse,” Ogbise-Goddy said (NAN)

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