This research work explored the issue of child marriage in Nigeria. It shed light specifically on reasons behind its perpetuation, its harmful consequences, shows how it constitutes a barrier to education and enjoyment of human rights by girls and how it further threatens the development of the country. The findings from respondents and extensive reading of materials related to child marriage suggest that child marriage is due to various factors including among others, the search for economic survival, protection of young girls, peer group and family pressure, controlling female behavior and sexuality, wars and civil conflicts, socio-cultural and religious values. It is a violation of girls’ human rights as it deprives her from freedom, opportunity for personal development, and other rights. It is also anchors the soci-economic and education developmental challenge for population pressure, health care costs and lost opportunities of human development. It is a barrier to girls’ education as young girls drop out of school to get married which impacts negatively on the community as a whole and on the well-being of future generation. This practice stands in direct conflict with the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); such as the promotion of basic education, fight against poverty, the prevention of HIV/AIDS and reduction of maternal mortality rate in sub Saharan Africa and Nigeria in particular. To deal with the problem, a number of strategies have been suggested mainly for providing economic opportunities to young girls, promoting education of girls and using mass media to increase the awareness of the whole community about the consequences of child marriage on girls themselves, their family and on the community as a whole.

Nigeria, the “Giant of Africa” with approximately 186 million inhabitants has undergone various stages of economic development in recent years and as at 2014 overtook South Africa to be ranked Africa’s largest economy but despite this developments Nigeria seems to be trapped in the fetter of social problems. Child marriage is one of the many problems that mar the social stature and development of Nigeria.

Section 29 (4) of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution provides the age of maturity to be age 18 and above and this is upheld by Childs Rights Act 2003, Section 21 and 22, which peg the age of consent in Nigeria at 18 years and as such any person below the age of 18 years is deemed a child. Therefore child marriage is the formal or informal union of which one or both of the parties are below 18 years. UNICEF defines child marriage as “a formal marriage or union before 18 years of age”. Child marriage though rampant among the female gender is not limited to the girl child, boys are also married as children but the girl child is disproportionately affected in Nigeria and around the world. According to GirlsNotBrides, Nigeria ranks 13th among the 20 countries with the highest rate of girl child marriages with approximately 3 million child marriages, 17% married before they turn 15 and 43% married before they reach the age of 18. When considered, these are seriously disturbing figures. Arguably not all girls face the same risk of becoming child brides, even within countries as the prevalence varies from one region to another. In Nigeria, the rate of child marriage is 3 times higher in the Northern region of the country with a whopping 76% and 10% in the South East region.

The culture of child marriage has been around for decades in Nigeria. In recent years, the Nigerian Legislature came up with the Child Rights Act of 2003 to define the rights of the child and to curtail the menace of child abuse, violence and marriage in Nigeria but 14 years on, the issue of child marriage is still embedded in the fabrics of the Nigerian moral system. The Child Right Act was created at the Federal level of legislation and is only operational if endorsed by the State government. To date, out of Nigeria’s 36 states only 24 have passed the act. Child marriage has proved to be a contentious issues within the Nigerian politics as political figures themselves have a habit of marrying teenagers. Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, representative for Zamfara West in the Nigerian Legislature made the front-page back in 2010 when he married a 13 year old Egyptian girl. In 2013, he also persuaded his fellow senators to defeat a motion that would have eliminated a constitutional loophole in Section 29 (4) (b) of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution which declared that a girl child under the age of 18 reaches maturity when they marry. Thus a “5 year” old girl is elevated to the status of maturity and womanhood through marriage.

In rural areas and northern Nigeria, child marriage is high among girls compared to males. Forty-three per cent of girls are married before they they are 18 years compared to boys at 11.6 per cent. This proportion is higher than the national prevalence rate which stands at 34 per cent for females and 1.4 per cent for males (Plan International, 2020:1). Different reasons have been given for going into child marriage. Poor families may regard a young girl as an economic burden and her marriage as a necessary survival strategy for her family. Her marriage relieves the family financially and socially (ICRW, 2007:98). In some cases, parents willingly marry off their young girls to receive payment of bride wealth in order to increase the family income. Bride wealth is a cultural phenomenon practiced in Africa and other parts of the world and it encourages parents to marry their daughters early (UNICEF, 2001: 97). Culturally, the boy child’s education is more valued and usually more preference is accorded the boy-child than the girl-child. Educating the girl child is seen as a wasted investment since she will be married elsewhere.

1.2 Statement of the Problem
The practice of child marriage mainly arises due to poverty, civil strife and low level of development. Some families believe that it limits and discourages promiscuity. Child marriage discriminates against the girl child’s right, limits her freedom to make decisions, isolates her from her peers, increases her risk of intimate sexual violence and sexually transmitted infections including HIV infection, predisposes her to complications of child birth such as obstructed labor and obstetric fistulae. Maternal mortality in pregnancy is four times higher among girls below the age of 16 years and their new born death rate is 50% higher compared to women who become pregnant after the age of 20 years. Child marriage also causes the girl child to discontinue or interrupt her education. Her children are also less likely to grow up healthy and go to school, thus continuing and worsening the cycle of poverty for generations to come.

1.3 Research Questions
1. What are the reasons behind child marriage perpetuation in Ado-Odo local government area?

2. Does child marriage have effects on the socio economic and educational performance of children in Ado-Odo local government area?

3. Does child marriage hinder development in Ado-Odo local government area.

4. How can the practice of child marriage be curbed in Ado-Odo local government area.

1.4 Objectives of the Study
Therefore, the specific objectives of this study are as follows:

1. To identify the reasons behind child marriage perpetuation in Nigeria using Ado-Odo local government as a paradigm.

2. To identify how it affect girls’ wellbeing and constitute a violation of their human rights in Ado-Odo local government area.

3. To investigate the consequences and soci-economic and education developmental effects of child marriage in Ado-Odo local government area.

4. To recommend ways of curbing the practice of child marriage in Ado-Odo local government area.

1.5 Hypotheses
1. Economic survival (poverty), socio-cultural and religious norms, civil conflict, value for virginity and fear of extramarital sexual activities are the reasons behind child marriage perpetuation in Nigeria.

2. Child marriage affects girls’ wellbeing and constitutes a violation on their human rights in Ado-Odo local government area.

3. Child marriage hinders development in Ado-Odo local government area.

Child marriage leads to poor development in Ado-Odo local government area.

1.6 Significance of the Study
Child marriage of the girl-child has been shown to be common in some Nigerian communities. It is associated with school dropout and poor quality of life for these young mothers and their families. There is limited information on child marriage and its effect on the girl-child most especially in northern Nigeria. This study will therefore expose the public to the burden of child marriage and its effects on the girl-child in Nigeria. This information should allow for intervention measures to be formulated and also formulation of a policy to address the problem. The study will also expose other gaps that exist within the field and prompt more investigations by other scholars. Finally, the study contributes to the literature on child marriage in Nigeria

1.7 Scope of the Study
This research on child marriage among teenagers, implication for sustainable future will be carried out in Otta, Ogun state i.e. Ado-Odo LGA in Ogun State, Nigeria.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 52 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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