ADEOBA MOFIYINFOLUWA BOLUWATIFE
For thousands of years, millions of Nigerians girls have been told they belong to the kitchen and other rooms. Girls as young as 9years have been away from school and taken to men often old enough to be their father as their husband. Obviously,the results will be disastrous.
Underlying causes of early marriage are many and include poverty, cultural and social pressure, forced migration and slavery, financial challenges, parental desire to prevent sexual relations outside marriage, lack of educational or employment opportunities for girls and traditional belief of primary role of women and girls ending up as wives and mothers.
44% of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday and 18% are married before the age of 15.
According to UNICEF, Nigeria has the third highest absolute number of child brides in the world 3,538,000 and the 11th highest prevalence rate of child marriage globally.
According to the United Nations children funds,”marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights. Child marriage lessens a girl development by resulting to early marriage and lack of contact between persons,groups or whole societies.It interrupts her education and limits her career opportunities thereby exposing her to domestic violence and life threatening illness such as premature birth,Anaemia,high blood pressure,sexually transmitted disease e.t.c
Child marriage oftens ends a girls education. In addition, uneducated girl’s are more at risk for child marriage. Girls who have only a primary education are twice as likely to marry before age 18 than those with a secondary or higher education.
Also large gaps between the child and her spouse makes her more vulnerable to domestic violence and marital rape.
Girls who marry as a children face severe and life threatening marital violence at higher rate.
Nigeria is predominantly a country in which men have all or most of the power and influence making it extremely difficult for girls to acquire secondary or tertiary education or aspire for high positions in government.
In Nigeria,child marriage is believed to be ancient cultural, religious and economic belief. It is believed in some tribe that girls who marry after the age of 18 can become promiscuous.
The fact remains that child marriage must be completely wiped out in Nigeria. It is one of the social Injustice of our time.
Child marriage is a child abuse and it has severe and negative effects on the victims. It causes both physical and mental trauma which leaves an unhealed scars that takes time and year to heal up.
Nigeria government should take immediate action to provide effective security to all government schools. The lives of young girls should not be used as a game piece for political discourse or gambling.
No girl child or any Nigerian should be put through brutality of violence or forced marriage. Every girl has a right to education and choice of life.