Derin Otegbola – EMHF Programs Co-ordinator
August 10th, 2013
Matters Arising – #childnotbride
The Nigerian senate on Tuesday July 16th pegged the official marriage age in Nigeria as 18 years when they amended the constitution. Then Former Zamfara Governor, now Senator, Sani Yerima, who married a 13 year old Egyptian girl in 2010, opposed the age restrictions saying it was anti-islam. For some reason the Senate agreed with him and made an about turn.
The Senate has now deleted the age specification from the new constitution, leaving marriage age for women open. They stated that ‘a woman is deemed to be “full of age” once she is married irrespective of the age she did so.’ This new law allows the marriage of under aged girls. (www.Lindaikeji.com)
What are the consequences of child marriage?
When a child bride is married she is likely to be forced into sexual activity with her husband, and at an age where the bride is not physically and sexually mature this has severe health consequences.
Child brides are likely to become pregnant at an early age and there is a strong correlation between the age of a mother and maternal mortality. Girls ages l0-14 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24 and girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die. Young mothers face higher risks during pregnancies including complications such as heavy bleeding, fistula, infection, anaemia, and eclampsia which contribute to higher mortality rates of both mother and child.
Child Marriage also has considerable implications for the social development of child brides, in terms of low levels of education, poor health and lack of agency and personal autonomy.
Psychological and social consequences
It is a huge responsibility for a young girl to become a wife and mother and because girls are not adequately prepared for these roles this heavy burden has a serious impact on their psychological welfare, their perceptions of themselves and also their relationship.
What you can do about the child marriage issue:
- Pray!Pray!Pray against the bill
- Sign the petition – http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/nigeria-national-assembly-stop-the-legalisation-of-child-marriage
- Harness every possible means to oppose this ill-fated effort to dehumanize the Nigerian girl-child.
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