By Fatimah Bintu Dikko

In Nigeria, a concerning practice persists where parents often compel their female children to marry the person who unintentionally impregnates them, without considering their readiness for marriage or their desires. This article aims to shed light on this issue and propose alternative solutions that can empower young women in such situations. It is crucial to approach this topic with sensitivity and understanding, using simple and accessible language to engage a wide range of readers.

Nigeria is a country rich in cultural traditions, where family values and societal expectations hold significant influence. In some communities, the idea of preserving family honor and avoiding shame is deeply ingrained. Consequently, parents may feel compelled to arrange marriages for their daughters to rectify the perceived mistake of an unplanned pregnancy.

One of the primary reasons behind this practice is the lack of open communication between parents and their daughters. In many cases, parents assume that their daughters want to marry the person responsible for the pregnancy without even asking for their opinion. This assumption overlooks the fact that young women may have different aspirations, dreams, and plans for their future.

Forcing young women into marriage without considering their readiness can have severe consequences. Marriage is a lifelong commitment that requires emotional, financial, and psychological preparedness. By overlooking these crucial factors, parents may inadvertently contribute to the perpetuation of unhappy and unstable marriages.

To address this issue, it is essential to empower young women and provide them with support and guidance. Education plays a vital role in empowering girls, enabling them to make informed decisions about their lives. By promoting education and creating awareness about reproductive health, family planning, and gender equality, we can equip young women with the tools to navigate such situations independently.

Open and honest communication between parents and their daughters is crucial. Parents should create a safe space where their children feel comfortable discussing their feelings, aspirations, and concerns. By fostering dialogue, parents can better understand their daughters’ desires and help them explore alternative solutions that align with their goals.

Communities play a significant role in shaping societal norms. By engaging community leaders, religious institutions, and local organizations, we can challenge harmful practices and promote progressive attitudes toward unplanned pregnancies. Encouraging community support networks that provide counseling, legal aid, and vocational training can offer young women the necessary resources to make informed decisions about their future.

The practice of forcing young women into marriage, especially in Nigeria, after an unplanned pregnancy is a complex issue rooted in cultural traditions and lack of communication. However, by promoting education, encouraging dialogue, and fostering community support, we can challenge this practice and empower young women to make choices that agree with their aspirations and well-being. It is noteworthy for parents to recognize that missteps are a part of life and that alternative solutions exist that can lead to happier and more fulfilling lives for their daughters, as well as guaranteeing parents’ lifelong rest of mind over the lives of their daughters.

Fatimah Bintu Dikko is a Girl Child rights activist and can be reached via 08056882982