(153): Dear Arewa, let’s reform our marriage institution
By Muhsin Ibrahim
A few weeks ago, a lady I know told me she had found a husband. As a divorcee, she needed only essential things to move in with her man. I was very happy for her. But, two days ago, after reading her Ramadan Mubarak message, I asked about her new home. She revealed that the marriage had crumbled. Why, I wondered.
She was sick, and the man refused to pay her medical bills. Not only that, he repeatedly taunted her. Finally, she has had enough and left him. She now uses traditional medication, which only worsens her condition. I learned that the medicines cost less than 10K, which she couldn't afford!
There is a viral story of that Kaduna lady whose husband left her with four young kids and now makes blocks to build her house by herself, which is, indeed, shocking. However, it's not an isolated case. I have just told you about a similar case above. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, more harrowing incidents will happen unless we work to solve the problem: empower our women.
We always run away from talking about this issue, let alone solving it. Unfortunately, people often bring our ethnoreligious cards into the debate. I am NOT against marriage. As I said before, I am a proud product of marriage, and I, myself, got married a decade ago! But who do we give our daughters to, and when do we marry them off? Will he support their education or occupation?
Marriages fail. Husbands die. What happens to a woman left with kids or even alone if she has always been entirely dependent? The pillar is now gone. What will she hold onto? What is the fate of those innocent children? Families struggle to make ends meet while still intact; what about a disintegrated one?
We really need to reform and reorient our marriage institution. We should not leave it unchecked. I wrote about this topic several times before, and thus know some people make some effort. However, we need to do much more. People, especially men, abuse marriage. They enjoy sex, divorce their women or disappear, leaving the public to cater for their children. In other instances, the kids become a public nuisance or worse. This needs to stop!
PS: The former emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, tried to introduce some reforms in marriage in Kano. However, as expected, many people, including some influential individuals, kicked against the initiative. Years later, the emir was dethroned, and the reform has not seen the light of day. In fact, no one talks about it anymore.
Let’s wake up!