I come from a background where it is the norm to marry off the girl child once she has fallen pregnant. It does not matter if she is still in school, she is forced to drop out!
Fathers do it out of anger, mothers, to save their skin from the wrath of their husband and his kinsmen. Bring into the frail aunts who harbour a vendetta against their brother’s wife, they will quickly see this as an opportunity to prove how a failure their in law is. The girl and her dreams will not stand a chance.
African family life is complex. There are some families who will interpret this demise as a less mouth to feed and a saved pocket in fees.
Some will argue: How can pregnancy be a mistake? A mistake is something that befalls you unexpectedly without your intention. We do well to remember that, a mistake, is also a decision you would not undertake if you had a glimpse of the dire consequences which will follow.
Mistakes are punishable but they also deserve forgiveness. It is not a fitting punishment to condemn your own child to a doomed future when there exists clear proof that the child does not at that age fully grasp the consequences of this rushed decision to be a parent.
The future, in a forced marriage, is always bleak. The girl, now bride has nowhere to turn if she is mistreated in her marriage. She can certainly not come back to her parents who in anger shunned her from their home. A damaged mother often leads to damaged children.
Why don’t we all pause and consider a different outcome!
Teenage pregnancy is a despicable thing. It is something we should, by all means, discourage and work so hard to ensure it never happens. However, if it happens let us save the girl child from her own mistake.
I advocate that as loving parents we adopt our grandchild, then send back our daughter to school. Let us give the girl another go at her dreams. This will safeguard her future and that of the child.
This approach, when properly implemented will stop girls from committing dangerous backroom abortions. I believe that one redeemable wrong turn, should not cast an eternal shadow on a bright future!