OPINION

Aisha Buhari: Championing A Cause To Protect Women And Families in Nigeria

In a pre-election recorded interview, the wife of the current president of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari responded to a question on her preferred causes upon assumption of “office”: “I leave that for the people to choose,” a truly selfless Aisha had said.

While championing causes by respectable Nigerians and indeed people of the world need not be on personalized based, i.e. selected by ethnicity, sex or religion, personal experience/affliction, etc; perhaps no one has ever been better poised, equipped and skilled to powerfully transform the fate of women and families in Nigeria than integrity-president Muhammadu Buhari’s adept wife, Aisha.

Providence has it that Aisha is named after the youngest wife of Islam’s prophet Mohammed (p), who is remembered for not only being one of those who contributed wholesomely to the narrated records upon which Islam is based today, but also for being a vociferous woman leader and what one might today call a rights advocate.

Nigerian women suffer untold hardship. While reported domestic violence levels are one in three, it is recognized that the true level is much higher and not obtained in surveys “because of stigmatization.” Our women are largely treated like second class or third class citizens. Married and divorced at will without consideration. In southern parts of Nigeria, straight talk, we even have them routinely killed after being required to serve like slaves.

In the north, women are abused, married-off young without their consent, discarded with their children by their husbands while still vulnerable teens and left no social reprieve than to beg and wallow in poverty. Alimony is not duly observed nor is there any thought for child support where there are issues. As a result children affected are discarded into the Almajiri lifestyle. [Don’t forget to #StandForAlmajiri]

We all know these patterns. In 2013 the women protection bill was passed at last. But what use is a bill to the formally neglected, oppressed and repressed? Nigeria’s women need more and they need so fast. This is not for their sake only, but more importantly for ours as a nation riddled with deadly ills.

Women in Nigeria must be protected: They are an endangered species

The wife of the president can begin to establish educational, and campaign for civic protection facilities for our women. The problems leading to women endangerment in Nigeria are social, religious, health and judicial. These can all be tackled and must be tackled firmly.

Recommendations: 

– Men must know that they face severe and inescapable consequences for maltreating women.

– Women must have access and be encouraged to freely utilize courts to seek redress for infractions against them.

– Women must be protected from any adverse consequences of seeking redress through the courts.

– The judicial system must be positioned to protect women’s rights, including their divorce rights, inheritance rights, Alimony rights and others.

– The society needs to be educated on the rights of women and their role in society.

– There needs to be a discrete victim reporting system that allows victims of domestic abuse to secretly and safely report or be reported by witnesses.

– Victims support systems. [Social media tools provide great opportunities here]

The Northern Issue

As pertains the peculiar situations in the north, Aisha is again perfectly capacitated to address these true and through.

While under Islamic laws and hence as contained in the constitution, there is no lower age limit to marriage, many in the north reportedly still engage in child-marriage, marrying and sleeping with girls who have not yet hit the age of puberty and been determined physically, mentally and socially mature.

The I believe well intended Child No Bride foreign derived frenzy borne out of a lack of understanding, was an erroneous approach and improperly categorized the problem hence serving to complicate it and further alienate the victims –who went under — rather than properly addressing it. Our honorable Aisha Buhari of course understands this cultural and social dilemma better and can initiate concrete steps to addressing it.

Children must not be allowed to marry. The prophet of Islam, Mohammed’s (p) youngest bride, Aisha was noted to be mature before consummation. While marriage under 16 is legal in much of south and north Nigeria and indeed in all but 6 nations of the world, marriage of children, not yet mature is abhorred socially, religiously, traditionally and scientifically. Prohibitions must be coordinated at the community level and not twitter level. Here are my simple recommendations to protect young brides across Nigeria. (These in addition to the above recommendations).

Protecting Young Brides And Grooms In The North

– Communities in cities and within extremes must have certified monitors who authorize, investigate and document all marriages.

– Strict media and social/religious forum announcements must be made for all marriages in Nigeria to be formally reported to/through the above and other formal authoritative agencies.

– A court or responsible and monitored social office must be in place to screen all potential brides and grooms to establish without doubt that:

1. The bride or groom is biologically, physically, socially and mentally mature; this can be done with physical and standardized questionnaire based exams.

2. The young bride or groom fully and consciously desires and has agreed to get married without duress.

3. That the home promises to enable the young bride or groom all opportunities of a continued education as long as is desired.

4. That the new wife or husband is informed of their rights to utilize the courts or equivalent systems for any matrimonial claims, complaints or even termination and that this is boldly enshrined and optimized.

– That we actually provide the schools that we want our youth to go to in the north.

– Enable a productive society that promotes real opportunities for human development and social, cultural and physical nourishment.

We provide better health care, especially maternal and social facilities to adopt and shelter the societal neglects.

It must be mentioned for Islamic readers that these are the rights of a woman as enshrined in Islam. The below passages from Islamic documents elucidate:

Divorcees And Virgins Must Be Consulted To Be Married

“Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as having said: “A woman without a husband (or divorced or a widow) must not be married until she is consulted, and a virgin must not be married until her permission is sought. They asked the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him): How her (virgin’s) consent can be solicited? He (the Holy Prophet) said: That she keeps silence. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 008, Number 3303)”

“It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) that a virgin girl came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and told him that her father had married her off against her objections. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) gave her the choice. Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2096; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani.”

“It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No previously-married woman should be married off without being consulted, and no virgin should be married off without asking her permission.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is her permission?” He said: “If she remains silent.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4843; Muslim, 1419.”

Quran Says Women Must Never Be Married By Force; Must Be Treated With Dignity And Equity And Their Dowry Must Never Be Seized

“Allah Almighty said in the Noble Quran: “O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may take away part of the dower [money given by the husband to the wife for the marriage contract] ye have given them, except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and God brings about through it a great deal of good. (The Noble Quran, 4:19)”

A Guardian’s Decision Cannot Supersede The Free Choice Of The Girl

“Narrated AbuHurayrah: “The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: An orphan virgin girl should be consulted about herself; if she says nothing that indicates her permission, but if she refuses, the authority of the guardian cannot be exercised against her will. (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number 2088)”

Mothers Must Be Consulted Before Marrying off Their Daughters

“Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: “The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Consult women about (the marriage of) their daughters. (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number 2090)”

Girls Being Married Off Must Be Done After Seeking Their Explicit Choice

“Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: “A virgin came to the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) allowed her to exercise her choice. (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number 2091).”

Of course there are many more considerations and recommendations to make this project a complete and society changing one. I pray our honorable president’s wife accept my recommendation of this gigantic task in response to her call for submissions of desired projects.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah; http://ENDS.ng [Every Nigerian Do Something] Email: drbrimah@ends.ng Twitter: @EveryNigerian

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