EARLY MARRIAGE AMONG TEENAGERS; IMPLICATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
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1.1 Background to the Study
Many development workers around the world recognized early marriage as an international issue which is mostly common in Africa, Asia and Latin America, however. Millions of young people suffer its negative consequence around the world as it diverts them from opportunities of personal growth and development thus it is a developmental challenge and a barrier to young girls as they drop-out from schools when they get married, this phenomena is very common in rural areas and poor house hold families in Africa, it impacts negatively not only on young girls but society as a whole and wellbeing of future generation Bayisenge (2012).
Pathfinder international report (2006) indicates that early marriage continue to exist in Asia, Africa, Latin America and middle east, parents as head of families continue to make choices for girls and boys with little or no involvement and consultation with them because of economic, cultural and attitudinal related factors. Parents in most cases consider marriage of their young children as family building strategy and protection from hurtful practices outside of marriage but few numbers of them give consideration the importance of educational attainment so as young generation get skills required for them to secure and sustain wellbeing and quality of life.
Early marriage refers to any marriage of a child younger than 18 years old. This robs the girls of their youth as they are required to take up roles for which they are not psychologically and physically prepared. Many have no choice about timing of marriage with their partner. Some are coerced into marriage, while others are too young to make an informed decision. Premature marriage deprives them of the opportunity for personal development as well as their rights to full reproductive health (RH), and well-being, education and participation in civic life (Saxena, 1999:7). Despite its disadvantages, however, early marriage is common occurrence in many parts of the world. 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, 1996:8). 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, 2010:5). However, in the United States of America, 2.1 per cent of all girls in the 15-17 age group were in early marriage
while, 7.6 per cent of all girls aged 15-19 were in an informal union (UN, 2010:9). Early marriage exists in some parts of Europe, for example, in the United Kingdom where 4.1 per cent of all girls in the 15-19 age group were cohabiting (living in an informal union), while 8.9 per cent of all girls in that age group admitted to have been in a cohabitation relation before the age of 18. Over 4 per cent of all underage girls in the UK were teenage mothers (Sharon and Lewis, 2005:3).
In rural areas and northern Nigeria, early marriage is high among girls compared to males. Forty-three per cent of girls are married before they they are 18 years compared to boys at 11.6 per cent. This proportion is higher than the national prevalence rate which stands at 34 per cent for females and 1.4 per cent for males (Plan International, 2011:1). Different reasons have been given for going into early marriage. Poor families may regard a young girl as an economic burden and her marriage as a necessary survival strategy for her family. Her marriage relieves the family financially and socially (ICRW, 2007:98). In some cases, parents willingly marry off their young girls to receive payment of bride wealth in order to increase the family income. Bride wealth is a cultural phenomenon practiced in Africa and other parts of the world and it encourages parents to marry their daughters early (UNICEF, 2001: 97). Culturally, the boy child’s education is more valued and usually more preference is accorded the boy-child than the girl-child. Educating the girl child is seen as a wasted investment since she will be married elsewhere.
READ ALSO:KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTION OF EARLY MARRIAGE AMONG ADOLESCENT GIRLS IN NIGERIA
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The practice of early marriage mainly arises due to poverty, civil strife and low level of development. Some families believe that it limits and discourages promiscuity. Early marriage discriminates against the girl child’s right, limits her freedom to make decisions, isolates her from her peers, increases her risk of intimate sexual violence and sexually transmitted infections including HIV infection, predisposes her to complications of childbirth such as obstructed labor and obstetric fistulae. Maternal mortality in pregnancy is four times higher among girls below the age of 16 years and their newborn death rate is 50% higher compared to women who become pregnant after the age of 20 years. Early marriage also causes the girl child to discontinue or interrupt her education. Her children are also less likely to grow up healthy and go to school, thus continuing and worsening the cycle of poverty for generations to come.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main objective of this study is to find out the implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nigeria. Specifically the study intends to:
1. Find out the causes of early marriage in Nigeria
2. Analyze the implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nigeria
3. Proffer solution to the problem of early marriage among teenage girls in Nigeria
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