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Child marriage comes with a heavy cost for young girls in Africa – but  there's one clear way out


The main objective of this study was to investigate early marriage among teenagers in Lafia metropolis, Nassarawa State. The survey was done among current residents of the Lafia Local Government Area. The study included both qualitative and quantitative methods, and the research methodology was a descriptive survey. Data was gathered through interviews, questionnaires, and focus group discussions.  The Marxist Theory of Feminism served as the theoretical underpinning for this research. According to the survey, many factors contribute to the practice of early marriage, including economic factors, social factors such as a lack of knowledge about what constitutes “a child,” ideas about the age at which girls or boys are considered ready for marriage, and the association of puberty with readiness for marriage for both girls and boys. It was also revealed that early child marriage was common in the research area, and there was a significant social pressure on families to conform. Failure to conform is frequently met with scorn, condemnation, or familial disgrace. The study concluded that the practice of early marriage is still ongoing in Northern region of Nigeria. it was recommended that Government through the Ministry of health and social welfare and the ministry of Community development gender and children affairs should conduct programmes in both rural and urban areas concerning early marriage.



Title Page                                                                                Page Nos.

Certification                                                                                    i

Dedication                                                                                     ii

Acknowledgements                                                                      iii

Table of Contents                                                                         iv

List of Tables                                                                               v

List of Figures                                                                             vi

List of Acronyms (if any)                                                           vii

Abstract                                                                                      viii



1.1       Background to the Study

1.2       Statement of the Problem

1.3       Objectives of the Study

1.4     Research Questions

1.5     Research Hypotheses

1.6     Significance of the Study

1.7     Scope and limitation of the Study

1.8     Definition of Terms



2.0 Introduction

2.1 Concept of Early Marriage

2.1.1 Context of Early Marriage in Africa

2.1.3. Early Marriage as a Developmental Challenge in Nigeria

2.1.4 Key Issues Surrounding Early Marriage (consequences)

2.1.5 Some Factors Responsible for Early Marriages among Adolescent Girls

2.1.6 Customs and Traditions Related to Early Marriage

2.1.7 Implications of Early Marriage on Teenagers In Nassarawa State

2.2 Theoretical Framework

2.3 Empirical Literature Reviews



3.1     Introduction

3.2.    Research Design

3.3       Area of the Study

3.4       Population of the Study

3.5     Sample and Sampling Technique

3.6     Research Instrument

3.7     Validation of Research Instrument

3.8     Administration of the Instrument

3.9     Method of Data Analysis



4.1     Introduction

4.2     Presentation and Analysis of Data4.3        Testing of Hypotheses

4.3     Testing of Hypotheses



5.1     Introduction

5.2     Summary of the Findings

5.3     Conclusion

5.4       Recommendations


Appendix I

Appendix II



                                             CHAPTER ONE


1.1 Background to the Study

More female teenagers than male teenagers are affected by child marriage; female teenagers have a higher risk of illness and death than older women; adolescent mothers have a 35%-55% higher risk of giving birth to infants who are preterm and of low birth weight than older women; and the mortality rates for children under the age of five can be 28% higher for children born to young mothers who are 20 years old (WHO, 2013). Worldwide, early marriage (EM) has an impact on millions of females. It is a common practice in West African nations where millions of females, mostly preteens and teenagers, marry older men every year. When young ladies are still children, they are married. It violates people’s rights. Due to early marriage (EM), which frequently results in early pregnancy and social isolation, their development is hindered (UNICEF, 2014).

However, early marriage is most prevalent in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and is recognized as a global issue by many development workers. As a result, it is a developmental challenge and a barrier for young girls as they drop out of school when they get married. This phenomenon is very common in rural areas and poor house hold families in Africa, and it negatively affects not only young girls but society as a whole and the wellbeing of future generations Bayisenge (2012). Millions of young people around the world suffer its negative consequences as it diverts them from opportunities of personal growth and development. Early marriage is still common in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, according to Pathfinder International’s 2006 report. This is because of factors related to economics, culture, and attitudes, and parents continue to make decisions for girls and boys without much or any input from their children. Most parents view their young children getting married as a strategy for starting a family and protection from harmful practices outside of marriage, but few of them take into account the significance of education attainment so that the next generation can acquire the skills necessary to secure and sustain wellbeing and quality of life.

Child marriage violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child and jeopardizes the achievement of sustainable development objectives like a long and healthy life, improved welfare for all ages, gender equality, steady economic growth, respectable employment, high-quality education, and the abolition of hunger and poverty (Sharma, 2012). Early marriage accelerates the transition from childhood to maturity, forcing the girl to assume the tasks of a wife and mother while still a child without the necessary autonomy or capacity for decision-making (Ahmed, 2014).

Any marriage of a child under the age of 18 is considered an early marriage. The girls lose their youth as a result of having to assume positions for which they are not mentally and physically capable. Many people are forced to marry their partners at a certain time. Others are too young to make an informed choice, while some are forced into marriage. They are deprived of the chance for personal growth as well as their rights to full reproductive health (RH), wellbeing, education, and civic involvement through premature marriage (Saxena, 1999). Early marriage is nevertheless common in many parts of the world despite its drawbacks. Overall, 20-50 per cent of women in developing countries are married by age 18, with the highest percentages in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (Singh and Samara, 1996). Virtually everywhere, poor women in rural areas tend to marry younger than those in urban areas, and educational levels also play a critical role (UN, 2010).

However, in the US, 2.1% of all females in the 15–17 age range were in an early marriage, while 7.6% of all girls in the 15–19 age range were in an informal relationship (UN, 2010). In some parts of Europe, early marriage is common. For instance, in the United Kingdom, 4.1% of all girls aged 15 to 19 reported cohabiting (living in an informal union), and 8.9% of all girls in that age range acknowledged having been in a cohabitation relationship before turning 18. Teenage moms made up more than 4% of all underage girls in the UK (Sharon and Lewis, 2005).

The issue of young marriage early marriage clearly emerged in the village areas and occasionally emerged in the rural areas, showing the differences between the regions, as evidenced by the 36% of female teenagers between the ages of 20 and 24 who wed before turning 18 years old. The majority of girls globally who are married or in a partnership before the age of 18 live in West and Central Africa. Child marriage rates in this region were at 35% as of 2022. East and Southern Africa followed with 31 percent of all girls married or in a relationship before reaching the age of 18 years. Child marriage is most common in the North West and North East of Nigeria, where 68% and 57% of women aged 20-49 were married before their 18th birthday (WHO, 2022).

The majority of girls often start acting sexually during adolescence. The rates are highest in some sub-Saharan African nations where girls between the ages of 16 and 19 are sexually active, resulting in millions of adolescent pregnancies. About one-third of women in Latin America and the Caribbean give birth before the age of 20. Similar to this, more than half of women in Sub-Saharan Africa give birth before the age of 20. Because to outmoded traditions, taboos, and practices, early marriage and subsequent forced unions are common. In all honesty, certain tribal cultures and conventions promote young girls’ engagement in prostitution. Early marriage has long been a custom in the majority of societies. When the kids reached puberty, which is between the ages of 12 and 16, they used to get married. This used to be true for the majority of girls who were married off to men who were older than their fathers. Here is an explanation of the cause of this. In order to prevent social embarrassments, the females get married soon after reaching puberty. All guilt falls on the father or other family members if the girl gets pregnant while staying with her father (Human Right Report, 2015).

Because teenagers are not fully physically prepared to care for pregnancy, early marriage puts them at risk. It also leads to early and frequent childbirth, which increases family size. Girls’ rights to education, childhood, and the right to a partner of their choice and age are also violated by early marriage. When young girls are pressured into marriage with a man who is older than they are, the likelihood that they will become widows soon is significant. Although some academics acknowledge that there is a knowledge gap regarding the progression of HIV infection and AIDS in women, women remain glaringly underrepresented in this research (Brettle and Leen, 2011). However, the young mothers won’t be the only ones left to care for the small children on their own. These young wives may not automatically inherit their husbands’ property due to harmful conventions and traditions. This study will look into early marriage among teenagers and its implication in Nassarawa State.

5 reasons why child marriage affects us all - CAMFED

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria, early marriage is a common practice that is mostly a result of poverty, civil unrest, and a lack of development. Some families think it restricts and deters promiscuity. Early marriage violates the rights of girls, restricts their ability to make their own decisions, isolates them from their peers, increases the likelihood that they will experience intimate partner violence and contract STDs, including HIV, and puts them at higher risk of experiencing labor complications like obstructed labor and obstetric fistulae. Girls are more likely than men to be married young in rural and northern Nigeria. Compared to boys, who marry at a rate of 11.6%, 43% of girls are married before they turn 18. This percentage is higher than the country’s prevalence rate, which is 1.4% for men and 34.0% for women (Plan International, 2011:1). The justifications for getting married young have varied. A young girl may be seen as a financial burden by poor families, and her marriage may be seen as a need for the family’s survival. The family benefits socially and financially from her marriage (ICRW, 2007:98). Parents of young girls may willingly give them up for marriage in order to earn bride wealth payments and boost the family’s financial situation. In Africa and other parts of the world, bride wealth is a cultural practice that encourages parents to marry their daughters off young (UNICEF, 2001). Culturally, the boy child’s education is valued more highly than the girl child’s, and often the boy child is given more preference. The belief is that investing in a girl’s education is a waste as she will marry someone else. In comparison to women who fall pregnant after the age of 20, the maternal mortality rate for pregnancies among girls under the age of 16 is four times greater, and the newborn death rate is fifty percent higher. The girl child’s education is also discontinued or interrupted due to early marriage. Additionally, her offspring have a lower likelihood of developing normally and attending school, perpetuating and making the cycle of poverty worse for future generations.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to find out the implication of early marriage on teenage girls in Nasarawa State. Specifically the study intends to:

  1. Find out the causes of early marriage in Nasarawa State.
  2. Analyze the implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nigeria.
  • Proffer solution to the problem of early marriage among teenage girls in Nigeria

1.4     Research Question

The following research questions will guide the study:

  1. What is the causes of early marriage in Nasarawa State?
  2. Is there any implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nasarawa State?
  3. What is the solution to the problem of early marriage among teenage girls in Nasarawa State?


1.5 Research Hypothesis

H0: there is no implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nasarawa State.

H1: there is implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nasarawa State.




1.6     Significance of the Study

Early marriage of a girl child has been documented in some Nigerian communities. It has been linked to school dropout and a low quality of life for these young moms and their families. There is a scarcity of data on early marriage and its impact on girls, particularly in northern Nigeria. As a result, the public would be made aware of the burden of early marriage and its consequences for Nigerian girls. This information should enable the formulation of intervention measures as well as the formulation of a policy to address the situation. The study will also highlight additional gaps in the discipline, prompting further research by other experts. Finally, the study adds to the body of knowledge on early marriage in Nigeria.

1.7     Scope of the Study

This research on early marriage among teenagers, implication in Lafia metropolis which is the largest city of in Nigeria’s North Central region and the capital of Nasarawa State.




1.8     Delimitation of the Study

Finance for the general research work will be a challenge during the course of study. Correspondents also might not be able to complete or willing to submit the questionnaires given to them.

However, it is believed that these constraints will be worked on by making the best use of the available materials and spending more than the necessary time in the research work. Therefore, it is strongly believed that despite these constraint, its effect on this research report will be minimal, thus, making the objective and significance of the study achievable.

1.9     Definition of Terms

Early Marriage: Child marriage is a formal marriage or informal union entered into by an individual before reaching a certain age, specified by several global organizations such as UNICEF as minors under the age of 18.

Teenagers: teenager, or teen, is a person who falls within the ages of thirteen-nineteen years old