Nigerias Child Not Bride campaign was recently highlighted by a short film of the same name written by Tegbe Toba. The filmmaker made the movie to bring the plight of child brides to the attention of the youth and communities in Nigeria and globally to aid in ending the devastation of this common practice.
It is reported that northern Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child marriages in the world, and that nearly half of all girls in the region are married by the age of 15.
In response to the national crises, and the prevalence of vesicovaginal fistula (a condition that occurs when the pressure of childbirth tears a hole between the vagina and the bladder or rectum, causing lifelong suffering), Nigerian actress Stephanie Okereke has completed the movie Dry which addresses both this condition and the other horrors child brides face.
Thousands of young Nigerian girls suffer from fistula after days of trying to push babies that do not fit through the birth canal. Health reports indicate that 12 000 new cases of vesicovaginal fistula are reported each year in Nigeria as young bodies cave in against the pressures of childbirth.
Okereke says: I have been to the north and to other parts of the country, and I have seen first-hand how this health issue defies normal living for girls and women of different ages. I have decided to share their stories through Dry.
It is hoped that Dry will help increase the global awareness of fistula and underage marriage in many parts of Africa.
Other advocates of the campaign against child marriages are Nollywood actresses Stella Damascus and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde. Today I am one of the most influential people in the world because I wasnt given off to marriage before the age of 18, says Jalade-Ekeinde in reference to her inclusion in this years Time magazines Top 100.
According to UNESCO, Nigeria holds the world record with the most children out of school, an estimated number of 10.5 million. This makes uneducated girls easy fodder for thousands of men who buy their brides from poverty stricken families, eager to earn a stipend.
As the debate rages on in Nigeria about whether it is acceptable to pronounce a 12-year-old girl full age simply because she is married, filmmakers such as Toba and Okereke are taking a stand.
In Tobas short film, Child Not Bride, a terrified mother and her daughter try to run from the man who has come to claim the youngster as his bride. The mother falls. One senses her stumble is both an emotional and physical one; the hurdles are too many to overcome.
In defiance, but nonetheless defenseless, the mother says: She is a child, not a bride. Yet the man towers over them, ready to snatch his prize.
However, just before he can steal away the girl, the mother and her child are joined by a community member and yet another and another who circle around them, shielding them from the predator in their midst.
He turns around and leaves. Together, one of Nigerias girl children has been saved.
The movie Child Not Bride was produced by GBFilms and Phoenix Media and can be viewed online.