Published on International Journal of Social, Politics & Humanities
Publication Date: January, 2020
Okemini Emmanuel B. & Chukwuemeka Orlu
Department of Sociology, University of Portharcourt, Choba
Sociology Department, University of Education, Ignatius Ajuru, Rumuolumeni
Journal Full Text PDF: Early Child Marriage and Educational Attainment of Girl Child.
Well the issue of child marriage if going back in times of the medieval age was between the ages of 6-7 years old for the girls. The truth is that in no part of the south eastern Nigeria will you find any marriage that the girl is 6-7 years of age. But you can rather find marriages of such ages in the northern part of Nigeria and what you rather find in the south east is probably marriages of between 16-18 and above years of age for the female and that is what can be referred today as child marriage in the eastern part of Nigeria.
Keywords: Child Marriage, Culture, Age and Eastern Region.
Marriage is an institution ordered by God. It is a union of two people (Adults), usually a man and a woman, to become husband and wife. This union called marriage as to be undergoing between two mature people, with mature minds.
The Mariam Webster Dictionary defines marriage as “The state of being united to a person of an opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual relationship recognized by law.” Marriage as recognized in the constitution is to be undergone by the adults from 18 years and above. Anything is said to be child marriage.
Child marriage is a formal marriage or informal union entered into by an individual before reaching the age of 18. The Oxford English Dictionary defines child as “a person who is below the age of adulthood, a minor, a person who is below the legal age of responsibilities and accountabilities. Therefore, when a child engages in child marriage it means throwing the responsibilities of an adult to a child usually a female, and which that child will not be able to handle.
Parents who engage their children on child marriage often feel that this marriage provides their daughters with a sense of protection from sexual harassment and sage from sexual transmitted infections. However, in reality, young girls tend to marry older men who have had lots of sexual expeditions, thereby placing them at an increased risk of contracting. Child marriage has lasting consequences range from their health, to education, to domestic violence, to social and economic development. A large percent of girls who enter into child marriage are often being compelled to by their parents, the society, and their tradition. The girls ignorance and the consequences accrued to involving in child marriage are often suffered by the girls who engage in it.
Early marriage according to Obi (2008) can have serious impacts on the child as it relates to educational attainment. These according to him include: the denial of education (once married, girls tend not to go to school. It may result to school dropout, resulting from poor academic performance), health problems, premature pregnancies, which causes high rate of maternal and infant mortality.
Prevalence of early marriage varies across regions and nations. Case could be traced to psychological, social and economic needs of the child. According to international centre for research on women (ICRW) 2008, the psychological effect on the child is seen in form of physical aggression by the partner and marital dissatisfaction. Observation shows that those that married early in life have low level of social interaction that could probably affect interaction that could probably affect their level of socialization in the school system and outside. Those that married early could probably suffer some financial hardship or constraints as well as having effect on general educational attainment in combating this social problem (early marriage) United Nations International Education Fund (UNICEF) (2000) sees the role of a counselor as creating awareness among schools (teachers and students club) active participation of various stakeholders (including in and out of school. Club, women associations, the judiciary and the teachers, women affairs office) to be encourage establishing an information bulletins which would always serve as documented efforts to fight early marriage, and religious leaders should also be involved in educating the community. From the foregoing early marriage serves to be a global problem the causes and effects however, vary from one society to another.
The essence of educating a child is to being out the potential in the child. One of the barriers to achieving this goal is early marriage. Marriage does not mean that the child’s education has come to an end but the resultant effects on the child on the part of parents, schools and spouses in the part of parents schools and spouses in the area. Education has been observed to have a central place in the realization of gender equality and it crates better opportunities for employment and earning. Thus decreasing depending and enhanced self-reliance, educating a girl enhance the probability of improved reproductive health family planning, well-being of children, high economic earnings and improved housing-hold management.
It has also been further observed that irrespective of the above benefits harnessed from girl child education. Child marriage, defined as marriage before 18 years old, is still a global issue which is extremely prevalent in some regions of the world, particularly in the development countries.
Every year 15 million girls are married as children, denied their rights to health, education and opportunity and robbed of their childhood (WHO 2015) poverty, cultural beliefs and societal conflicts have been the major factors leading to and resulting from girls marrying early. Though there is also conflicting argument that under Islamic law and eartin traditional laws, a woman is for age once she is married, and that which makes it difficult for some countries not to legislate on marriages under Islamic rites and customary law. It has been compellingly argued by human rights actors that the conditions child brides find themselves in is harmful and incompatible with certain laws and far from universal acceptance. Many countries in the year 2000 signed the international instrument that countries the universal set of standards and principles of survival, protection and participation of children.
The convention on the right of the child (CRC) outlines the human rights to be respected and protected for every child under the age of 18 years and required that these rights are implemented to protect children from abuses and discrimination (UN Report).
More than two million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. That is the equivalent of 10% of the world’s population (WHO 2015). The rate of child marriage varies, both within and between countries. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, in proportions and numbers, rate the liveliest in child marriage. The 10 countries with the lightest rate of child marriage are: Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Guinea, Mozambigue, Mali, Malawi, Burkina Faso and South Sudan. In Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 17% are married before the turn 15. The prevalence of child marriage various widely from one region to another, with figures as high as 76% in the North West region and as low as 10% in the South East (UNFPA, Nigeria; child marriage country profile, 2012)
2.Causes of Early Marriage
The early, marriage of young girls is caused by poverty, Ignorance, social and cultural norms, societal conflicts and wars. As a result of poverty and economic need, some families take decision to marry off their daughters either to lessen their economic burden or as a way to get connected to richer family that may be of economic benefit to them. In this case most of these young girls are implored, forced or deceived into marriage. In most communities where families could not afford or continue to provider for their children welfare consider the next option to give away their young daughters to another family in form of marriage. The family in-law or husband to the daughter is well accepted most especially for their wealth and riches as they are expected to provider for the daughter and the daughter’s family. Ignorance sometimes plays a major role as one of the causes of child marriage. In this situation, some parents feel that it is better and safer to give away their young daughter in marriage to avoid the shame of the daughter getting pregnant out of wadlock. Some societies believe that early marriage will protect young girls from sexual attacks and violence and see it as a way to protect their daughters (UNFPA, 2013).
Social and cultural norms are still one of the major barriers for the positing early marriages of young girls. In some case the culture and traditional beliefs demand that a daughter should be given out for a marriage under certain agreement with another family. Pennants arrange these marriages and young girls have no choice. Also, social pressure within the community or families prevails and a girl child is a married off because other young girls are getting married and a family will not allow their own child to be left out. Also, some society give pregnance to boy’s education and girls are discriminated and given the choice to marriage.
Many region are experiencing conflicts and wars and families are displace while poverty increases leading to young daughters either married off at their young girls have the option to get married. In most conflict regions these young girls are either forced or abducted by terrorist who marries them. Nigeria for example, over the menut years to terrorist attack, has witnessed various abduction of girl child who have been married and held captive by the abductors and other being sold away for marriage.
3. Effects Of Early Marriage
There are so many effects in engaging in early marriage which included:
a. Health risk: Early marriages threaten the health and life of girls. First of all, when a girl is married as a child, she cannot make the decision of when to give birth the society focus her to give birth at such a tender age. Therefore, complications may arise from pregnancy and child birth, which are the major causes of death among young girls below the age of 19 in Nigeria. Pregnant girls aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die in child birth as women in their 20s and girls under the age of 15 are five to seven times more likely to die doming child birth.
b. Illiteracy and poverty: Child marriage often ends a girls education, in line with this uneducated girls are more prone to child marriage. Early marriage hinds a young girl’s ability to continue with her education as most drop out of school following marriage to focus their attention on domestic duties and having or raising children.
c. Early marriage deprives them from enjoying heal relationship that exists between husband and wife because it serves as boss to subordinate relationship because of the age difference. The girls are not allowed to contribute meaningful ideas to the family as they are seen as nanny or house maids for some kind of domestic duty.
4. Reason For Early Marriage
Here are some reasons for child marriage?
• Limited education opportunities
• Low quality of education
• Inadequate infrastructure
• Lack of transport and the reform concerns about girl’s safely while travelling to school significantly contribute to keeping girls out of school and therefore tend to favor child marriage.
• Girls often seen as a liability with limited economic role.
• Law enforcement to prohibit child marriage is relatively weak.
• The families and girls who might benefit from social protection programmes are not always aware of them and these schemes are often limited to providing cash transfers without the accompanying messages to address the multidimensional nature of child marriage.
5. Recommendation And Way Forward
According to world health organization (WHO), young girls who many later and delay pregnancy beyond their adolescence have more chances to stay health their, to better their education and build life for themselves and their families.
Government and international community’s engagement and commitments should ensure the supporting and enforcing legislation to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls to 18 years, providing equal accuses to quality primary and secondary education for both girls and boys, and mobilizing girls, boys, parents and leaders o change practices that discriminate against girls and create social, economic and civic opportunities for girls and young women.
Though before recent debate, members of the civil society has made some improvements to address the factors leading to and resulting from girls managing early, by implement programs to increase girl’s school enrolment and awarding scholarship for girls.
The international agencies, CSOs and youths should all join hands to educate for an effective implementation of child rights, and strong policies to dissuade child early marriage age.
6. Empirical Review
In order to have a far view of the design and tolls used for analysis as well as findings of other researcher on the variable in this study, some empirical studies were revived. The study carried out on the causes and consequences of early marriage in Amhara Region of Addis. Ababa Ethiopia by path finder international (2006) with a population of 2070 is instructive the aim of the study.
The findings revealed that 18.2 percent of the married women married within the legal age of 18 years and above, the proportion of coven who entered marriage at a appropriate age is only 16.2 percent in the oral areas and 26.6 in Urban areas. The findings also revaluated that is percent of early married women was first married before the age of tussle, then young girls were neither physiologically nor psychologically ready for the union, the difference between this and the researchers work is that the researchers work is based on the students perception on the causes and impact of early marriage.
In another research carried out by the population cove nil of Nigeria. (PCN) (2004) on child marriage beefing, with population of 1007, descriptive surely design was adopted while question give was used as instrument for data collection. The study revaluated a high prevalence of child marriage in Nigeria particularly the northern part of the country the study also reveled nationwide that 20 percent of girls were married by age 15 and 40 percent were married by age 18.
Another study was conducted by rename the (2006) on early marriage as a barrier was 110 students drawn from population of 210 students. Hypothesis was trusted for the study. The findings of girls human right as it detritus her of freedom, health and well being as well a participations in civil life. The difference between this and the researcher work is that the resent was not gender bias has the researcher within the area under investigation observed that early marriage could lead to low educational attainment of both boys and girls and could have negative psychological social and economic effect on both sex male and female.
7. Matrimonial Theory
This theory assume that adolescences begging with biological changes accompanying puberty. It is from this assumption that earlier views of adolescent assumed audience link between biological factors and psychological development. The perspective was pioneered by G. Stanly Hall, Hall’s theory is probably the earliest formal theory of adolescence and such, and he is dobbed the fun of a scientific study of adolescence. Influenced by Darwin’s evolution theory, Hall (1904) agreed that each person’s psychological development recapitulated both biological and cultural evolution of human species Hall saw adolescence as a time of storm and stores or “stam and drang” which mirrors the volatile history of the human race over the last 2000 years. (Cross, 2001) Hall’s ideas when published in two volumes set Adolescent period of storm and stress is full of contradiction and wide swings in mood and emotion, theory, feelings and actions Oscillals between humility and comity, goodness and temptations and happiness and sadness.
In sum, Hall views adolescence as a corpulent firms charged with conflict (Ross 1972) a respective labeled the storm and stress views of adolescence.
In conclusion the findings show that for the society to curb the problem of early marriage, it has to employ the use of human rights organizations as well as some religions organization.
Equally provision for sustainable opportunities for education and economic activities should be made in tackling in scourge of early marriage in the society.:
a. Early marriage is that marriage that occurs below an expected age of 18 years of adulthood. It then means that people should be allowed to marry from the age of 18 and above, preferably between 18 – 21 years.
b. What results to early marriage is poverty and economic situations and these most be tackled.
c. The major effect of early marriage is illiteracy, and this could result to giving birth at an early age, which could expose the girl to health complication, which could be worse if health facilities are insufficient or incompetent, which could lead to maternal mortality, and there denial to equality and better life, poor educational attainment, causing family instability and thereby affect the society generally.
d. For the society to be able to check or put this behavior under control, it should resort to people education, enlightenment and improved economic activities.
Considering the problems of early marriage discussed above, following are recommended.
a. There should be proper enlightenment on the effects of early marriage.
b. Discouragement of the violators when the need arises.
c. Introduction of good and compulsory education for the girls at all levels.
d. Provision of sustainable opportunities for economic activities
e. Family should be discouraged from using the young girl as articles of trade for economic gains.
f. Reduction of poverty to improve the living condition of the families and the society at gains.
g. Finally, if all the above recommendations are taken into consideration, they will help in reducing the menace of early marriage in the society at large.
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