Early Marriage: A Gender–Based Violence and A Violation of Women’s Human Rights in Nigeria

  •  Ine Nnadi    


Child marriage customs occur all over the world, whereby children are given into marriage well before they attain puberty in most cases or even the age to get married as defined by several laws in Nigeria and other countries of the world. It is a common thing today to find a prevalence of such practices widespread in several parts of the world particularly in Africa, Asia, and South America. Often times, child marriages are frequently associated with marriages that are conceived and arranged by parents, whereby, only one marriage-partner usually the female is a child. This practice has prevailed despite the fact that many countries in Africa have a legal regime on the minimum age for marriage which is either pegged on 16 or 18 depending on the country. Some reasons adduced in favour of the practice like conflict, poverty, religion, and tradition escalates incidence of early marriages in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Nigeria, A significant number of early marriage is prevalent in most cultures in the country with most girls married off by age 15, and several others married off by the time they attain the age of 18. This practice is extremely prevalent in some communities in the Northwest region of Nigeria. However, in recent times it is noteworthy that the activities of human rights groups condemning child marriages and highlighting its attendant consequences have considerably brought about a remarkable decline of the practice in several parts of Nigeria.In this paper, we examined the high incidence of early marriage in Nigeria and argued that despite the availability of legal regime on early marriage as well as Nigeria’s international human rights obligations, much more work is needed to eliminate the detrimental cultural practice of child marriage of young girls in Nigeria and proffered a solution to its menace.

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