The effect of child marriage for girls

Photo: Sam Nasim

Child Marriage is a marriage of a girl or boy before the age of 18 and applies to both formal marriages and informal unions in which children under the age of 18 live with a partner as if married. Child marriage affects both girls and boys, but has a greater since effect on girls.

According to UNICEF, Nigeria has the world’s third-largest absolute number of child brides-3,538,000-and the world’s 11th highest rate of child marriage. 44% of Nigerian girls marry before their 18th birthday and 18% marry before age 15. Child marriage is most common in North West and North East Nigeria, where before their 18th birthday, 68% and 57% of women aged 20-were married.

photo by Elohor Ishaka

One of the main problems with child marriage is the desire to raise children when they themselves are still children and have little awareness of sexual and reproductive life. Evidence shows that child marriages are related to many adverse reproductive outcomes such as stillbirth, miscarriage, stunting, underweight, premature pregnancies and abortion. Childhood pregnancy raises a high risk of adverse reproductive consequences for both mother and baby.

photo: Plan Asia

Another deadly illness; cervical cancer, child marriage and polygamy play a significant role. HPV infection is getting endemic.

Child brides are vulnerable to domestic violence and are less likely to take part in family decisions because of immaturity and lower socioeconomic status. There are also instances where the future husband and in-laws tend to blame the girl after marriage for everything, often even torturing her in a physical manner.

photo: fixersuk design

Psychological wellbeing of the child is still not good, and it may be too difficult for her to cope with the complicated adult life. Additionally, the abuse against her can also lead to physical and emotional trauma.

When the girl gets married, the parents avoid educating her, thinking that once she’s a wife she doesn’t need schooling. That increases the rate of analphabetism among Nigerians and destroys the potential of so many bright people.