(INTERHUB) – In Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 17% are married before they turn 15. The practice of child marriage in Nigeria is prevalent. Poverty, poor educational attainment and strong social and religious traditions are drivers of child marriage in Nigeria. The Nigerian Constitution does not establish a minimum age of marriage. The Child Rights Act, which was passed in 2003, sets the age of marriage at 18 years-old. However, only 23 of Nigeria’s 36 states have taken concrete steps to implement the minimum age of marriage. Many families still promote early marriage as it is a perceived means of securing girls future survival and protection.
There is an antiquated practice of collecting ‘bride price’ in Nigeria. When a girl is getting married in Nigeria, her groom is expected to pay a certain price for her. This practice can be traced back to the belief that a girl is the property of her family, her father to be more specific. In order to marry her, you have to pay a price for her. The practice has become customary in Nigeria, but it also provides a very huge motive for why child marriage as a practice has continued to persist. It further explains why girls from poor families are the most vulnerable to this practice. The children are married off to older men, in order to both get the bride price that is paid on her behalf, but also because that is one less mouth to feed for her family.