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GBV: 6m girls married in childhood, says UN Chief

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Hajiya Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, has said that worldwide about six million girls got married during their childhood.

Mohammed said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the two-day Northern Traditional and Religious Leaders Summit on ending Gender Based Violence (GBV).

The summit with the theme “Awareness to taking Action” was organised by the Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development in partnership with UNFPA and Spotlight Initiative.

She condemned the act of forcing a girl-child into early marriage, capable of exposing her to all forms of violence.

The UN deputy scribe urged traditional and religious leaders to help eradicate the menace.

Mohammed reiterated the commitment of the UN in partnering with the Sultan Foundation and relevant stakeholders in eradicating GBV.

“Let us act to end all forms of violent practices against women and girls.”

Ms Ulla Mueller, Country Representative, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) called on traditional rulers to join hands in ending GBV and other harmful traditional practices.

Mueller said that protection of women and girls was imperative for national development and a safe space where women and girls could live life to the fullest.

She explained that child marriage was one of the major causes of vagina fistula and other health challenges capable of impeding the development of the girl.

Mueller expressed the commitment of UNFPA to the protection and safety of the women and girls through advocacy.

She said: “Gender Equality includes universal access to family planning and UNFPA will continue to stand with persons whose rights are violated, especially women and girls.”

Hajiya Hadiza El-Rufai, wife of Kaduna State governor, identified GBV and drugs abuse as the two biggest vice bedeviling Northern Nigeria.

El-Rufai called on traditional rulers to collectively work with relevant bodies to stem the tide of the menace.

She called for justice for women and girls who were victimised in one way or the other to act a deterrent to future occurrence.

Hajiya Halima Jibril, President, Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) called on traditional and religious leaders to devise protective measures to curb abuses against women and girls.

Jibril, who described the summit as a golden opportunity, urged Muslim religious leaders to enlighten the public on human rights in Islam.

She explained that GBV covered a wide range of issues ranging from domestic violence to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as well as salient features as abandonment of women by husbands.

Jibril added: “According to UN Women Nigeria, Global data base (2020) child marriage tops the list of GBV at 43.5 per cent, followed by FGM 18.4 per cent.”

Ikenna Osuoha

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