Boko Haram: Kano policemen ‘arrange’ marriages for widows and divorcées to help build stronger family ties

by Chi Ibe

In a bid to restore sanity and peace to the north, Nigerian policemen in Kano have embarked on a match-making scheme.

According to AFP reports, the programme run by the Islamic Sharia police in Kano, aims to match widows and divorcees with available men. This they hope will in part help limit the violence in the north blamed on Islamist group, Boko Haram, as well as reduce other social problems by providing a stable home for children.

Such a programme has the potential to be frowned at, but local officials say the women participate strictly on a voluntary basis.

Nabahani Usman, deputy head of the Hisbah – as the Sharia police are called – said that due to the current security situation in Kano, children with no proper parental guidance and care are more likely to be influenced and fed with these extremist tendencies. “It is very important they are saved from these destructive elements through this programme, where they can have stable family life with their mothers and step-fathers looking after them,” he said.

Residents are taking this new scheme very seriously. For instance, the AFP reported that radio announcements were aired in mid-February calling on men open to marrying selected widows and divorcees to come forward. Also, Health NGOs are offering free HIV screening to the spouse-seekers, which the Hisbah has made mandatory to the applicants. Already, reports claim about 100 women have participated in the programme.

Those who qualify are then permitted to meet each other at the Hisbah office, choosing on their own among the participants who they might wish to marry. A group wedding will be held later for participants, but those who prefer not to wait can also go ahead with their marriages.The men involved in the programme ranged from the young to the not-so-young. Muhammad Tukur, 75, was looking for a third wife. “I have not yet made my choice. I’m still waiting for the woman my mind is at peace with,” he said.

Whether marriage will have a positive effect remains to be seen, but for now women and men seem eager to participate.



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