“If not for the paralegals… I could have gone into prostitution”
In Gidan Marabus community, in Rano LGA, 23-year old Bara Sani (not real name) had been forced into a marriage with one Mato by her father, Mallam Sani. Bara’s marriage to Mato was an unhappy union in which she suffered physical abuse and neglect.
To add to her woes,Mato was also seeing another woman who eventually had a child for him. After the baby was weaned, Mato entrusted the care of the child to Bara, who accepted to bring up the child even though people kept asking her why she would not leave. But she felt it was her fate.
When Bara’s mother-in-law accused her of not taking proper care of the child,Bara finally decided to leave the marriage.She asked her husband to find them another place to live, he refused. Instead, he told her he wanted her to get pregnant for him with their second child. Barachose to part ways.
Through an IWEI paralegal who also happened to be her relative, Bara sought a way out of her doomed marriage. The IWEI paralegals in Rano invited her father, Mallam Sani, for a meeting. He verbally abused the paralegals and threatened to disown Bara if she went ahead to seek for a divorce. Eventually, the paralegals supported Bara to seek divorce through the court.
According to Bara, “At court, the judge told me to pay back the dowry of N5.000 and another N5,000 on top to which I agreed but before the divorce
would be finalized, he gave us two weeks to see if we could reconcile our differences. Instead as we got home, my husband gave me my divorce papers. My father who was unhappy with my going to court to seek for divorce disowned me and said I should never come back to his house. I did not have to pay the N10,000 as I told my now ex-husband that he should pay me back the expenses I had incurred looking after our children. He did not want to have to pay so he let me go.”
Bara, who is now happily married to a new husband, also said, “We were married in court with the support of the paralegals since my father had disowned me over the divorce of my first husband. If not for the paralegals, only God knows where I would have been by now. As my father had rejected me, I could not go to other members of my paternal side. I could have gone into prostitution.”