• Victoria Olanrewaju Benedict


Written by~ Zannu Chantelle, Girl Advocate.

Girls Voice Initiative project is being sponsored by RISE UP and implemented by Action Health Incorporated, which aim is to support young girls, to help them speak for themselves and for other girls, and also to help defend other girls. It is an initiative which is to train sixty girls on leadership and advocacy. The project began with a one-week training of the girls' advocate on the 16th of December, 2019, which was held in Lagos.

GROUP 5, which I am actively in are on a mission of mitigating the issue of young girls being married off and engaged in economic activities instead of going to school, which is pervasive in Makoko Community and indeed ravaging the development of the community.

The issue of young girls being married off actually originated from their progenitors, it has been happening of a hundred years and it has decimated many girls. Many young girls have died due to the negative effect of early child marriage. What really instigated the issue of young girls going into early marriage came from societal challenges and mediocre social amenities.

Poverty has been the greatest disaster to the community; the parents of the young girls are the actual ones who imperil the life, health, and future of their daughters. The parents don’t mind the reproach of their conscience, they have no dearth of shame, they see no indignity in giving out their young daughters to some pedophiles for remuneration, and they indirectly sell off their daughters which is nothing but child trafficking. This issue is now inherent in Makoko community; the girls no longer find the issue as a problem since it is now intrinsic. Some of them willingly comply to the rules of their parent.

Considering education, for instance, the issue of not going to school has added to the issue of young girls being married off for example, ‘a girl was idle and wasn’t going to school, as usual, she was home alone and a libidinous young man who lives next door sighted this young girl, this lascivious and his unbridled lust, approached the girl and told the girl that there is a snake in his room, he called the girl to his room to see the serpent, the man was only deluding her and the innocent girl was credulous that was how he raped her, she couldn’t tell anyone about it she kept it to herself and it resulted into pregnancy and she was coerced to marry the man at age 14! Cases like this are diffused in Makoko community.

The predominant occupation in Makoko is fishing, most of them hawk their fish on the street, and in the process, they are been molested, they end up being pregnant and they are conscripted by their parent to go into early child marriage.

During our advocacy activities which commenced in January, we carried so many researches and surveys; we created so much awareness on the perils of early child marriage. We interviewed many of the girls; we had a dialogue with the Baale and his other delegates in the community twice. In total, with we were able to speak to over One Hundred persons.

In conclusion, the whole project has really stretched me, it has made me know the importance of working in groups. it has improved my knowledge and exposed me to many things. it has been fun and even the little stress, is absolutely worth it. thank you to all that has contributed to the success of the programme, and thank you for making me a change agent.

©2020 by Girls Voices Lagos.