child marriage
child marriage

by Bosun Awoniyi

The practice of child marriage in Nigeria is prevalent.

child marriage
child marriage
Maryam Yahaya is a 15-year-old girl that was forced to marry a 30-year-old man in central Nigeria’s State of Plateau. She made the news in July 2013 for killing her husband Lawal Bala.
Yahaya told the police that she killed her husband because he usually subjected her to excessive sex after she was forced to marry him in 2012. “On each occasion, he would go as far as six rounds after taking drug enhancement. The thought of running away was out of the question because my parents will send me back to him. There was no other way out for me until the devil got into me,” Yahaya told police investigators.
Wasila Umaru is another 14-year-old girl that was forced to marry a 35-year-old man in Nigeria in 2013.
She was arrested by the police for poisoning and killing her husband and two of his friends.
These two cases are examples of hundreds of incidents reported in the country.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 43 percent of girls are married off before their 18th birthday in Nigeria, while 17 percent are married before they turn 15.
The prevalence of child marriage varies widely from one region to another, with figures as high as 76 percent in the North West region.
As part of efforts to draw global attention to such human rights violations, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) organized an event to mark the Day of the African Child.
Since 1976, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16. This year’s celebration also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child.
Bem Angwe, the commission’s Executive Secretary, reiterated the need to end early and forced marriage, saying that it constitutes a serious human rights abuse.
Angwe expressed optimism that Nigeria could achieve the eradication or mitigation of child marriage through the various legal platforms and frameworks available to it.
According to him, this menace undermines the rights and development of children as it impacts on their emotional, physical and psychological health.
“Child marriage contravenes critical human rights international and regional instruments like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Child’s Rights Convention, the African Charter on the rights and the Welfare of the Child,” he added.
An educationist, Esther Wesley, identified girl’s education as essential to solve the problem.
Wesley called on parents to champion the course of girl-child education for the benefit of their homes.
She urged government at all levels to devise means of cushioning girl-child labor and abuse.
Education is a strong indicator of whether a girl will marry as a child. The UNICEF said 82 percent of women aged 20-24 with no education were married by the age of 18, as opposed to 13 percent of women who have at least finished secondary education.
The Child Rights Act of 2003 sets Nigeria’s national legal minimum age of marriage at 18. Enditem

-Xinhua

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