In the June 14 report, the director of an association for the promotion of women in Nigerien society, Nafissatou Hassane Alfari is quoted as saying that while the government of the West African country seeks to educate the girl child, parents mount obstacles as they prefer to marry them off at an early age.
“Among the government's objectives is above all the schooling of girls. Parents prefer to marry them at 15 years of age. In fact, 77% of Nigerien girls are married before the age of 18, and 28% before the age of 15,” Ms. Alfari says.
She adds that Niger has the highest birth rate in the world with an average of six children per woman but an effort to free women is considered as an influence from the Western culture and therefore taken as a threat.
“When you fight for the emancipation of women, our chauvinist and conservative society immediately denounces you as being at the service of Western culture and its values, which conflict with Islam,” Ms. Alfari says, and adds, “We are accused of ruining the traditional values of Niger.”
She further says that the Jihadists and Muslim extremists are threatened by the transformative power of schools and that it is one of the reasons schools are not spared when villages are attacked.
In the June 14 report by Agenzia Fides, Hadiza Maiga is presented as a well-wisher who “has created a sewing school and is responsible for welcoming girls who had to drop out of school because they were forced to marry by jihadists and undergo genital mutilation.”
In the report, the girls Ms. Hadiza accommodates are those who manage to escape forced marriages and therefore cannot go back to their families in the village, because they would be rejected.
Ms. Hadiza welcomes the girls, gives them a home and the opportunity to learn a job and create a new life for themselves independently and responsibly, the report indicates.
Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.
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