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I was compelled to marry at 15 but abandoned when I had VVF –Victim

November 2, 2013

Despite its wide condemnation, child marriage has been linked to the increasing cases of Vesico Vaginal Fistula.

The fight against early child marriage had recently attracted the attention of the general public in Nigeria following a proposal by a lawmaker in the National Assembly to formally legalise the practice.

Worried by the spread of the possible spread of early child marriage and its attendant effects on some victims, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities recently decided to work closely with a non-governmental organisation, Partnership Opportunities for Women Empowerment Realisation, chaired by Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke, to cushion the effects in Cross River State.

But a victim of early child marriage, who during child birth also became afflicted with VVF, Mrs. Esther Ubani, wants the campaign taken to the interior villages, hamlets where the practices are more.

According to Ubani (22), who was only recently repaired at the Ogoja General Hospital, she was compelled to get married at the age of 15.

Although VVF is not restricted to the young alone as there are numerous cases of adults who become victims, the prevalence rate for the underage is rife.

The scourge is the occurrence of abnormal hole between the bladder or rectum and the vagina that is characterised by continuous and uncontrollable leakage of urine.

Ubani, who narrated her ordeal, said she became afflicted with VVF from complications during her third child birth.

“I have been carrying the scourge for five years. I had the problem as a result of complicated pregnancy. I had delayed childbirth and unfortunately, I lost the baby in the process. It was after that sad experience that I started urinating uncontrollably. I actually started the labour at home but was later taken to the hospital.

“I was compelled to get married at the age of 15 and when I became afflicted with VVF, nobody looked after me in my compound. I was left alone to cater for myself and children. Our people are wicked, if you do not have someone behind you, nobody looks at your face.”

Succour, however, came her way when a Good Samaritan offered to take her to the newly unveiled VVF centre in Ogoja from where she got repaired.

Even while in the hospital, Ubani said she opted to die on many instances as she had no hope of surviving financially after the repairs, but the health workers kept encouraging her even after the surgical repairs had been carried out.

Her case is one of the numerous instances of victims of early child marriages that abound in the hinterland of different parts of Nigeria.

Lending their voice to the outcry against early child marriage, the women wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Cross River State recently urged the National Assembly to jettison such move.

Chairman of the association, Rev Mercy Akpama, said, “Those supporting early child marriages should know that it is morally wrong to give a child out in marriage, especially the girl child. They are creating problems while government is trying to provide health care. If a child is not ready for pregnancy, she may die trying to give birth. There is also the risk of VVF.”

In order to start addressing the issue, the Country Resident Representative of UNPFA, Ms Victoria Akyeampong, who recently paid a visit to the wife of the Cross River State governor, Mrs Obioma Liyel-Imoke, said her pet project, POWER, was doing well in tackling the pitiable plights of women and children in the society.

Akyeampong disclosed that the focus of UNFPA interventions this year was on adolescent pregnancy, providing assistance to repair the cases of VVF whose prevalence, she noted, was on the rise in the South/South zone. Other  areas of  intervention  include, commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child with the theme, “Innovating for Girls’ Education.”

“The belief is that there is a correlation between adolescent pregnancy and education because an educated girl makes informed choices,” she said, noting that the curricula would include sexuality education, issues about gender-based violence and other harmful traditional practices.”

Akyeampong also told  Imoke that the agency had concluded arrangement to open the first UN zonal office in the state, adding that this would serve the whole of South-South region of Nigeria.

She said, “We see Calabar as the nexus of South-South region and it is a good way of announcing our presence in the state as high prevalence of child marriage still exists in this area.”

The UNPFA country director said her visit to POWER had afforded her the opportunity to know more about the NGO to explore collaboration opportunities, adding that she would present the 2013 State of the World Population Report during the unveiling of the office in Calabar.

In her response, Imoke described the gesture as a sign of more positive things for the state.

She said that Cross River Government is partnering with UNICEF in many areas and expressed her desire for her NGO, POWER, to partner UNFPA in any area that can uplift humanity.

She said, “POWER aims to holistically empower the women of Cross River State with a focus on their economic empowerment ‘by putting money in the hands of a woman. Its vision is essentially that of a Cross River State characterised by a low level of extreme poverty and fully empowered women.”

Imoke said the welfare of the girl child must be continuously protected, adding that as part of its re-engineering process, POWER introduced a cluster of a wide range of health challenges including VVF, pneumonia prevention and cure, cancer (integrated cancer care), among others.

She also said the cases of vulnerable women in the society would continue to attract the attention of her NGO in order to address their plights.

BY MUDIAGA AFFE-Punch

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

From → General

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