NIGERIA: Child Grooming

Child grooming

Child grooming is a term that describes the befriending of and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child’s inhibitions for child sexual abuse. Many young girls have been married off to older men or have been lured into predatory relationships through this tactic. Some of these girls are said to give their consent, but what does a child know? It’s our duty as parents and society to protect our children. Child grooming is unacceptable and people should be prosecuted for it. In my youth, I experienced child grooming by a man old enough to be my father. I probably would have been married at the age of 14 with loads of children and a truncated life had he not been stopped.

The child grooming started when I was about 14. There was a man about my father’s age who lived in our neighborhood. As is our cultural tradition, I treated him like a father. I would greet him whenever I see him and I never thought anything about his smiling to talk to me and ask me how I was faring. I was just 14 and reading novels was more on my mind than marriage.

Since my school was far from our home and I didn’t have enough money for transport, I had to leave home early to get to school on time. At some point, the man started to meet me on my way to school. I would greet him at the bus stop as we were all brought up to do, and he would pay my bus fare. After the first few times I grew wary. I hate anything free in my life – I still do. Sometimes I would sit in front seat and pay before he got the chance to pay for me. This went on for months and in the the process he started chatting me up and offering me money, which I would always refuse.

I became desperate to avoid him, but he would always be hanging around waiting for me. Of course, I couldn’t insult him or walk away from him, because respect for one’s elders is a critical part of our culture. This old man was a cloth merchant, and was incredibly wealthy by our standards. His children were always well fed and clothed. He would offer me money, more money than I had ever seen in my young life, money that was supposed to tempt a hungry child who had nothing. I would always refuese. One day, he forced the money into my hand and I let it fall to the ground.

I became desperate to escape that old man, but I could not. I switched to a bus stop further from my house, yet he found out and started following me there. I was hunted for over a year by this man and I didn’t tell anyone. Who was there to tell? I didn’t even think it was in my place to tell anyone. We didn’t have that closeness we have with our children today and I pray our children have more with their own children. After a while he started talking about marriage and how he would make my life enjoyable and also he would take me on trips abroad.

The old man even started giving food and money to my parents. Imagine what it was like for a starving family to get such assistance. He was adored in our house. This was classic groomer behaviour: buy the child, then try to buy the parents. Sometimes I try to imagine what would have become of me if I had not been so strong-willed at age 14. Would I have decided I wanted to marry him?

The harassment lasted for a long time, but eventually he left me alone when he realised I was not interested in his thoughts of marriage. When I was 15, he married an even younger girl of maybe 13 years. She was taken out of school to marry him. They had a daughter together, and years later they divorced. All this happened before I even got married at 24.

The old man has since passed away and is no longer a threat to me or any other owman. I cry when I think about this story, knowing how an old man had tried to trap me, and how he eventually trapped another young girl. I know what it was like to live with this harassment and fear. I know child groomers when I see them. When I hear about dirty old men saying a 14 year old decided to marry them, I see a child groomer who should be in jail for putting such thoughts in her head in the first place. Grooming a child with money, promises, love and hope should be made illegal. Many lives have been destroyed by it.

God protect our teenage daughters. They are an endangered species.

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Aisha Yesufu of Nigeria.

Photo courtesy of Phil Warren / Flickr.

World Voice: The Current Status of #ChibokGirls #BringBackOurGirls

World Voice: The Current Status of #ChibokGirls #BringBackOurGirls

6th September 2016 is the day that  President Buhari of Nigeria decided to get his dictator skin back on by sending police to stop #BringBackOurGirls  peaceful procession. This same President who during the elections campaigns had said, “so before you is a former military ruler and a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms and is subjecting himself to the rigors of democratic elections for the fourth time”.
The most annoying part of it is that sending police against #BringBackOurGirls movement instead of rescuing #ChibokGirls was the failing script left by the former administration of President Jonathan and to think that President Muhammadu Buhari would adopt that strategy is simply unbelievable.
#ChibokGirls were abducted from their school where they were writing their final exams on the 14th of April 2014. On the 23rd of April the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls started and 30th of April 2014 the physical demands for the rescue of #ChibokGirls started. Instead of the then government to respect the rights of citizens to make demands decided to attack and malign the #BringBackOurGirls movement. We continued with our demands undeterred knowing fully well that the rescue of #ChibokGirls is the responsibility of government and it’s the right of #ChibokGirls as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We continued with demands for our #ChibokGirls inspite of threats to our lives.
On May 29th exactly 410 days after abduction of #ChibokGirls a new government was sworn in after the incumbent government was defeated in the elections.
#BringBackOurGirls movement is administration neutral and does not demand rescue of #ChibokGirls from the President or administration but from the Nigerian government irrespective of who is President. We continued with our demands for #ChibokGirls still in captivity.
We have continued to demand for rescue of our #ChibokGirls who unfortunately sadly and painfully are approaching 900 days in captivity.
For the government of the day to begin to attack on our movement even to the extent of using armed police against us is quite sad.
The President needs to understand that it’s not bullets that brought him to power but ballots and the people that cast those ballots are the bosses. Seeing police coming out to stop us as we march peacefully to make demands for our #ChibokGirls was pathetically funny. Couldn’t they at least learn from the failing script left by former Commissioner of Police Mbu who tried to ban us from marching? Mbu tried stopping us where is Mbu today? Former President Jonathan  government that hired thugs to stop us how successful were they? That President Muhammadu Buhari  decided to go that route is sad day for democracy.

Hundreds of police men and women were sent out to stop us. One of the officers said to us that there was directive to stops us from moving from the Unity Fountain a place were we meet daily for Sit Out to make demands for our #ChibokGirls  and that we should stay at Unity Fountain. When the Officer was asked directive “from whom” he refused to say. Police cannot infringe on our constitutional rights to peaceful protest. We cannot ask police for permission to protest. That would be disastrous. What the law asks is that the Police be given 48 hours notice of any planned peaceful protest and that we always comply with. The police we have in Nigeria unfortunately has allegiance to the President and ruling party rather than to Nigeria and Nigerians.

We embarked on our march and the only weapons we had were pictures of our #ChibokGirls. We surged on and when we got to where we were normally stopped when going to villa we met hirelings that carried Anti BBOG placards. I do hope they get their proper dues with all this talk of recession in Nigeria. Police that said it had banned all form of protest obviously forgot to add except when they have Presidential approval. The police looked sheepish when we asked them what explanation do they have for those who were there protesting?

We had no business with anyone coming to protest for or against anything. It’s a democracy and all are free to come and protest. We went directly to the business that brought us to the Presidential villa which was to paste the pictures of our #ChibokGirls on the wall of the entrance to villa. We went straight to work and did what took us there. When one comes with well coordinated thought out strategic plan one gets to work and doesn’t have time for distraction.

This I hope President Buhari would please take note of.

We did what we set out to do because we know our fundamental human rights.

I have a note for President Buhari:

The same way you kept coming back again and again asking for votes is the same way we would keep going again and again to demand #BringBackOurGirls and we would not stop Not Until Our Girls Are Back And Alive #NotWithoutOurDaughters.

The easiest way to get us to stop demanding is by rescue of our #Chibokgirls

#BringBackOurGirls NOW & ALIVE

NIGERIA: Advice for a Groom

Advice for a Groom

I recently attended a wedding and observed one of our local customs that gave me pause. In a Nigerian wedding, there it is tradition for elders to offer marital advice to the new couple during the ceremony. Interestingly, in most cases, all the advice is directed to the bride. Is this because people believe that a man is hardwired with knowledge of how to make marriage work? Or because they feel there is no reason for a man to know anything about making marriage work? Or is it simply because most of the wedding attendees who give advice happen to be women? I watched as speaker after speaker gave the couple advice, consistently directed only to the bride.

Since the groom at this particular wedding received no advice, I thought I would offer some, just for grooms.

  1. Don’t be afraid to say I AM SORRY. Your wife may forgive easily, but this is no reason to keep offending her deliberately. Apologies should be sincere, and you should never apologize just for the sake of it.
  2. Make your wife feel important. Treat her like she matters, and be considerate of her feelings. Respect begets respect. My husband once said to me, “We are not just spouses we are friends.” Be sure to build a strong friendship with your spouse.
  3. Make family decisions together. Communication is key in every marriage! Don’t try to shield your wife from troubling situations. Instead, let her know what is going on whether with work, and let her share your burden.
  4. Be grateful. Appreciate your wife for all that she does, and never ever take her for granted. Always recognize her for her contribution to the family, work and household.

For marriage to work beautifully, I believe that BOTH parties must make a conscious effort. Most of all, the couple must set goals together, and review them regularly.

What advice would you give to a groom? Is it the same advice you would give to a bride? What are the wedding customs where you live?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria. 

Photo credit to the author.

NIGERIA: Financial Education for Children

Financial education

“Mummy, is it Buhari’s fault that the economy is bad?” My daughter asked me this when she returned from school one day. She’s referring to Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria. “You must always call him President Buhari,” I corrected my daughter. Then I realised this was another opportunity to educate my daughter about economy and finances.

I told her it’s not President Buhari’s fault that the economy is bad, rather it is the choices we made as a country. I told her Nigeria is like a big family. Imagine that the father had a big job and they paid him a very good salary. In this family, perhaps the mother chose not to work because the father’s salary was so good. The family lived well, and often traveled abroad for holidays, wearing designer clothes. Everything they did was expensive. They had huge parties all the time. Their children went to expensive schools and they go abroad for treatment even for a simple headache.

The father earned well, but did not save anything and sometimes borrowed even more money to maintain their extravagant lifestyle. At one time some family members started stealing the money for their own personal enjoyment. They stole this money right out of the family account.

One day the company the father worked for was no longer able pay the father his big salary, so they gave him a pay cut. Remember, the father did not save when he was earning a high income. Remember, the family led a very expensive lifestyle. Remember, the mother had no job, so she couldn’t support the family. So, there was problem.

Eventually, a new father was brought in and the salary was reduced further and further. The family still had no savings and money was still being stolen from the family account. The new father found it difficult to support that expensive lifestyle the family was accustomed to. In this case, there would be economic problems and it wouldn’t necessarily be the father’s fault. In the meantime, the father must still deal with the people who stole from the family account, and try to recover the money.

“Do you understand now?” I asked. “Yes, I do,” said my daughter, and she went away, satisfied.

Our children know something is wrong and we need to explain to them what is going on. At a school meeting recently, I overheard a parent wondering how can she tell her child they can’t afford to pay school fees? I told them as parents you need to financially educate your children. This is not done in school, so it’s the parent’s duty to ensure that children are aware of economy and finances.

My children are part of our family’s economic life. They know what’s going on in our businesses and their father’s job. They know when things are good that we are investing, and they know why we invest. They know where the money for their school fees is coming from and what sacrifices were made to make ends meet. When business is bad, they know. At one time I thought we couldn’t pay my daughter’s school fees and I told her she had to delay a week or more before starting school (we always pay school fees before resumption date. It’s my personal stand). Luckily we managed to pay on time, but she learned that it’s a possibility and understands life sometimes throws a spanner into the works.

When we joined my husband in Abuja in 2011, my children’s school fees were fifty times higher than what we were used to paying. I had to sit my children down to explain that we needed to make sacrifices for their education. One of the decisions we made as a family was to reduce travelling abroad for holidays. So we did, and my children understood why.

In December, my daughter went to Europe for her school’s annual ski trip. She noted that there were a lot fewer students on the trip than previous years. My daughter also went to Wales this month for the Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Similarly, not all the students participating in the Duke of Edinburgh programme went for the expedition. I had to explain to her there was economic downturn and it was not easy for all families to afford such trips. At the moment, we are seriously worried about paying for education because our currency was losing value. She gave me a worried look and said, “God willing, everything will be okay.” “Amen,” I replied.

My daughter left the house a better-informed child. I hope that when she becomes an adult, she will be better prepared for economic and financial challenges because she learned about it as a child. As parents, we cannot shield our children from the reality of life. Let them learn from us and be more financially savvy.

How do you ensure that your children get a good understanding of your family finances?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.

Photo credit: Bob Ryskamp / Flickr

World Voice: #EqualityForDummies

World Voice: #EqualityForDummies

World_VoiceMy name is Aisha Yesufu and I happen to be a human being with the reproductive organs of a female so I am called a woman. When I demand for equality I am not demanding to change my womanhood for manhood. That would be an insult to the ME that I am. When I demand equality I am merely asking to be treated equally. When I demand for equality I am not saying I want to take over a man’s job I am merely saying I want to have my own job and not handout. When I demand for equality I want to be looked at as a human being with all her 5 senses and an accompanying brain and not as a toy to be toyed with.

When I demand for equality I am not saying I want to beat up a man I am just saying I should not be seen as one to be beaten with impunity. When I say I want equality I am not saying I want to take over the pay of a man I am just saying I deserve fair pay based on what I bring to the table. When I demand for equality I am not saying the Boy-Child shouldn’t be sent to school I am just saying that the Girl-Child has a place in the classroom. When I demand for equality I am not saying a Boy-Child born should be frowned at I am just saying the Girl-Child born should be heralded with joy.

When I demand for equality I am not saying the wife should be above the husband I am just saying the wife should have a place in the partnership. When I demand for equality I am not saying Men have to do the cooking I am just saying whoever wants to should be allowed to. When I demand for equality I not saying men should become Mijin Hajiya (Men controlled by women). I am just saying women should be matar Alhaji(a wife) with rights. When I demand for equality I am not saying men should be disinherited I am just saying women have a right to inherit and be inherited from. When I demand for equality I am not saying I am better than you. I am just saying you should not be afraid of who I am.

At the end of the day my demand for equality does not take anything away from you. It only ensures I get what is truly mine so why all the bad belle(hatred)?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.