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Save our girls: Stop child marriages

5 January 2021
Reading time: 2 minutes

Early marriage can have a devastating effect on girls and women under the age of 18.

Even though child marriage was a long-recognised tradition in the northeast region of Nigeria, it had been stopped years ago.

Dr Mala Alhaji Baba, the student affairs officer of the College of Nursing & Midwifery, said early marriage caused many problems.

He said that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), no women should marry below the age of 18. However Islam agreed a girl could marry at the age of puberty, 12 years old.

Mala said early marriage often meant that young girls fell pregnancy when their bodies were not yet properly developed and they were not equipped for the pain of giving birth.

He said sometimes frequent sexual intercourse led to cervical cancer.

Mala said that often in small villages, the wives did not get a balanced diet, iet which resulted in many women falling ill, leading to anaemia and other complications.

He urged people to stop early marriage.

According to the WHO the complications of pregnancy and childbirth were the leading causes of death in young women aged between 15 and 19.

“Young girls who marry later and delay pregnancy beyond their adolescence have more chances to stay healthier, better their education and build better lives for themselves and their families,” said Falvia Bustreo of the Family, Women’s and Children’s Health at the WHO.

The organisation said girls who married young were more vulnerable to intimate partner violence and sexual abuse. It said child marriage was being recognised as a violation of the rights of girls because:

  • It effectively ended their education;
  • It blocked any opportunity to gain vocational and life skills;
  • It exposed them to the risks of too-early pregnancy, child bearing and motherhood before they were physically and psychologically ready; and
  • It increased their risk of intimate-partner sexual violence and HIV infection.

According to the United Nations Millennium Goals (MDGs), ending child marriage was closely related to the Every Woman Every Child initiative. Numbers 3, 4, and 5 of the goals promote gender equality, the reduction of child mortality and to improve maternal health.

The organization’s Population Fund said that between 2011 and 2020 more than 140 million girls would have become child brides, 50 million of which would be under the age of 15

About the author

Elvis Mugisha