At the launch of the National campaign on ending child marriage in Nigeria the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhassan, said that about 65 per cent of children below 18 years were forced into marriage in the Northern regions. “Child marriage is prevalent in the North-West and North-East geo-political zones of the country.
She condemned the act and stated that, “There are always high maternal mortality and morbidity, illiteracy, lack of skills, unemployment, low income and widespread misery among victims of child marriage, especially female victims.
“Child marriage, a formal or an informal launch union of a child before full maturity, which is the age of 18, is associated with various challenges,” Ms. Alhassan said.
According to her, in 2015, an estimate of six million girls were married by the age of 15 years.
“The launch is the beginning of a process as the ministry proposes to establish a National Coordination Unit, and a steering committee will oversee the monitoring and evaluation for implementation of the National Strategic Plan.
“All of us need to join hands to achieve this through the provision of adequate services and comprehensive preventive efforts, so that our girls and boys can access and have quality education.
“This will include ensuring that their sexual and reproductive health and rights are protected as well as engagement of boys and men in the society in the promotion of gender equality in various communities,” the minister said.
In attendance at the event was the High Commissioner of Canada, Christopher Thornley, who said, “Child marriage occurs more frequently among girls who are the least educated, poorest and living in the rural areas.”
He also said that it was better to delay marriage to adulthood to enable the individual to develop mentally and physically.
An Associate Professor of Classical Arabic and Modern Literature, Mustapha Hussain said, “A child below 18 years of age should not be forced to marriage.
“Marrying a girl to man she does not know is unIslamic,” Mr. Hussain said.
Mr. Supo Adekunle, a representative from Christians Association of Nigeria, said that child marriage should be totally discouraged by everyone who wants the development of the country, and the bible gives no support to child marriage.
Written by Okolo Ezinne