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Many marriages wrecked by the insurgency

9 August 2022
Reading time: 5 minutes

One of the many sad outcomes of the 13-year insurgency – and something that is seldom discussed – is the effect it has had on people’s personal lives.

In the past few years divorce has become a major issue, with spouses regarding it as the only way to move forward in their lives. And this has been noticed particularly among internally displaced persons.

Life in the camps is hard. Residents struggle to get food, clean water, healthcare and other social services. Jobs are almost nonexistent and many of the men have lost their only means of income, farming and fishing. Once displaced, the men find it almost impossible to earn a living. Every now and then, if they are lucky, they might get manual labour jobs but they do not last for long.

The camps are congested, open to water-borne and other diseases and sanitation facilities are often a mess or do not exist at all. Open defecation only makes the chances of catching a disease more likely. Stagnant dirty water, found all around the camps, is the ideal breeding ground for Anopheles female mosquitoes, the bites of which spread malaria.

Kaltum Muhammad, a resident of the Kawar Maila IDP camp, told RNI reporter Zainab Alhaji that she had been having problems with her marriage for many years.

“I’m a divorcee mostly because my husband of many years could not provide for the family. I lived with him for a long time during which he did not provide food or other necessities. I decided to talk to my husband reminding him that his role was to provide for me and our children. I complained but he did nothing. My in-laws used to come to me often and abuse me. I started to feel that I could no longer take the insults.

“I asked my husband for a divorce, which he declined. I contacted community elders and they talked to him but he still did not provide for us. No food and no divorce! The trauma persisted and eventually one day I told my husband I would kill him if he did not divorce me. I meant it only as a threat.”

Muhammad said she stayed with him for many more months and he still did not provide for the family.

“I have three children with him. Eventually my father had to go out on the street to beg. He gave me the little he received and we could buy some food. Finally, my husband agreed to a divorce.”

She said she had spent three comfortable and happy years with her husband. The problem began when he stopped providing for her and the children.

“We were happy when we first got married. At that time the government and non-governmental organisations [NGOs] used to give us food and we had an abundance. My husband used to get more than ₦20,000 a month and I received ₦7,000, which went towards the day-to-day expenses.

“My husband used to sell the food we got, but I used to get food with my own money and eat with our children. The problems began when we stopped getting assistance. Many women faced the same fate as me and now they are divorcees. Others remain married and are still suffering but they are stuck in the marriage.

“Now my father and I share the burden. When I got divorced, I started going out with him to beg on the streets. We are both helping the family.”

Falta Bukar, also a divorcee now, said: “I faced a lot of struggles in my married life. Before we got divorced, my husband did not provide for me and our children. We could not even afford to enrol our children in school. My husband could not provide our basic daily needs. He told me he was fed up with the situation and that he wanted to send me back home and divorce me.”

Bukar said that when she returned home her father had scolded her, telling her she had not been patient enough to stay in the marriage. “Later, he realised it was not my fault. I still feel disappointed and hurt. If my husband could provide for me, I would go back to him even now.”

Muhammad Shettima, a religious scholar in Maiduguri, said: “It is the responsibility of the husband to take care of his wife as that is part of our religion. No matter how prosperous a woman might be, it is accepted that her wealth is hers and her husband has no right over what she does with her money or possessions.

He said divorce was not something that was taken lightly. “Therefore, a husband has no right to divorce a wife without a concrete reason.”

Shettima said it was a man’s responsibility to provide for his family. “If he cannot provide, a wife can choose to either stay in the marriage or not. At no time is a wife forced to stay married if her husband does not keep his word. He remains responsible and must provide for his wife and children.”


About the author

Mbodou Hassane Moussa

Journaliste de formation et de profession. Passionné par l'écriture, le digital et les médias sociaux, ces derniers n'ont aucun secret pour lui. Il a embrassé très tôt l'univers des médias et de la Communication. Titulaire d'une Licence en journalisme et d'un Master en Management des projets, Mbodou Hassan Moussa est éditeur Web du journal en ligne Toumaï Web Médias. Aujourd'hui, il est devenu Webmaster à la Radio Ndarason internationale et collabore à la réalisation du journal en langue française et dialecte Kanembou.