A report on Thursday by a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Save the Children International (SCI) has described Nigeria as the headquarters of child marriage in the world.
The SCI report which came from an intensive study in some states in the northern parts of Nigeria, stated that 44 per cent of girls in Nigeria are married off before attaining their 18th birthday.
In the report tagged ‘State of the Nigerian Girl Report – An Incisive Diagnosis of Child Marriage,’ the CSO posited that Nigeria records one of the highest rate of child marriages globally.
The report also indicated that 78 per cent of girls in the northern region of Nigeria marry before the age of 18, while child marriage is more prevalent in the North West and North East regions of Nigeria, where 48 per cent of girls were married by age 15 and 78 per cent were married by age 18.
According to the report, the percentage of people aged 20-49 years who were first married or in union before age 18 for women was 44.1 per cent while men accounted for 6%.
“The percentage of young people aged 15-19 years who are currently married or in a union for women is 22.2 per cent while no man was in such a union,” part of the report noted.
“The percentage of people from 15-49 years who are in a polygynous union for women was 36.9% while men accounted for 18.7 per cent. This is proof that Early Child Marriage affects quite a large number of women and girls,” it added.
“In Borno State, 89.13 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 were first married before age 15. 59 per cent of them had no education whatsoever; 42% had some level of primary school education and 100 per cent had no secondary school education.
“Among women who are in a marital relationship or union, 46 per cent have spouses who are older by 10 years or more.
“In Jigawa State, 78 per cent of women, aged 20-49 were first married before age 18. 25 per cent of women aged 15-19 are presently married or in a union and 63 per cent of women dropped out of school to marry.
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“Only eight per cent of women who married before age 18 are gainfully employed and earn above the NBS 2020 national poverty line. 65 per cent of fathers, mothers and mothers-in-law approve of CEFM.”
The report also indicated that there is evidence of clear and strong link between Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM) prevalence and endemic poverty, poor education outcomes, school dropout rates, a high rate of out-of-school children, and poor access to basic social, economic and healthcare services.
Reacting to the report, the Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria, Mercy Gichuhi, said:
“Child Early Forced Marriage is a human rights violation and a form of gender-based violence, GBV, that robs children of their ability to make decisions about their lives, disrupts their education, subject them to become more vulnerable to violence and discrimination, and prevents their full participation in economic, political, and social spheres.”
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