Education

Parents’ Awareness On Child Marriage In Two Local Government Areas of Niger State

 

Dr. Rashid A. Adedokun Mcasson, CCN, LPCN,

Department of Counselling Psychology,

Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University,

Lapai, Niger State, Nigeria.

E mail ; rashidadedokun@gmail.com

Tel no: 08034497081, 08070832109.

Paper presented at the 39th Annual International Conference of Counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON) at University of Benin between August 18 – 22, 2014.

PARENTS’ AWARENESS ON CHILD MARRIAGE IN TWO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS OF NIGER STATE

Dr. Rashid A. Adedokun,

Department of Counselling Psychology,

Ibrahim Babangida University,

Lapai, Niger State, Nigeria.

e-mail: rashidadedokun@gmail.com

Tel nos: 08034497081, 08070832109.

Abstract

Child marriage has become a common feature in some cultures across the world. Nigeria is also inclusive. It has been defined as formal marriage or informal union entered into by an individual before reaching the age of 18(UNICEF, 2011). This paper focuses attention on the attitude of people towards child marriage, and to find out whether they know the implications of such. Two areas in Niger State – Lapai and Minna were selected for the study. A questionnaire tagged: CHILD MARRIAGE AWARENESS QUESTIONAIRE was designed and administered on two hundred(200) respondents,randomly selected from the two areas. The respondents were made up of male/female; rural/urban and rich/poor. Three hypotheses were tested: that there will be no significant difference in the awareness of male and female towards child marriage; that there will be no significant difference in the awareness of rural and urban dwellers towards child marriage; that there will be no significant difference in the awareness of the rich and poor towards child marriage. Data collected were analysed with t-test. Results indicate positive awareness by male and female,the rich and poor dwellers involved in the study; while no significant difference was also recorded between the urban and rural dwellers. Recommendations include: more enlightenment programmes for Nigerians so that child marriage will be reduced to the barest minimum; appropriate legislations to curb incidences of child marriage; expansion of educational structures to accommodate children who are ripe for schooling; establishment of Community Counselling Centres in all the 744 local government areas in Nigeria (fully staffed with qualified personnel) to counsel people on the need for ripe-age marriage.

Introduction

Child Marriage is a formal marriage or informal union entered into by an individual before reaching the age of 18 (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund 2011.). The legally-prescribed marriageable age in many jurisdictions is below 18 years,especially in the case of girls, and even when the age is set at 18 years. Many jurisdictions permit earlier marriage with parental consent, or in special cases, such as teenage pregnancy. Age of consent loss are intended to protect children from exposure to sexualisation and sexual exploitation, and child trafficking is also, to some extent,associated with child marriage. Child marriage affects both boys and girls, most of whom are in poor socioeconomic situations(UNICEF 2012).

Child marriage is related to child betrothal and forced early marriage because of the pregnancy of the girl. In many cases, only one marriage- partner is a child, usually the female. Child marriages are also driven by poverty, bride price, dowry, cultural traditions, laws that allow child marriages, religious and social pressures, regional customs, fear of remaining unmarried, illiteracy, and perceived inability of women to work for money.

Child marriages are still fairly widespread in some developing countries, such as parts of Africa (Kamba, 2013), South Asia (UNICEF, 2001), South East and East Asia(Integated Regional Information Networks, 2010), West Asia(Brinkley & Chronicle 2010), Latin America(United States, 2010) and Oceania. The incidence of child marriage has been falling in most parts of the world.The five countries with the highest observed rate of child marriages, below the age of 18, are Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh and Guinea (UNICEF, 2012).

The top three countries with greater than 20% rates of child marriages below the age of 15 are Niger, Bangladesh and Guinea(International Women’s Health Coalition, 2008). As many as 1 in 3 girls in developing countries are married before reaching the age of 18, and estimated 1 in 9 girls in developing countries are married by age 15. One of the most common causes of death for girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries is pregnancy and child birth.

Nigeria has some of the highest rate of child marriage in the world. The child Rights Act, passed in 2003, raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 for girls. However, Federal law may be implemented differently at the state level, and to date, only a few of the country’s 36 states have begun developing provisions to execute the law (Population Council, 2004) there are different legal systems operating simultaneously-civil, customary, and Islamic; and state and Federal governments have control only over marriages that take place within the civil system.

Domestic violence is a widespread problem; some studies report that up to 81% of all married women admit experiencing some form of verbal or physical abuse by their husbands. One study of Demographic and Health Survey data suggests that the lower the age at marriage,the highest the risk of domestic violence.

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The younger a bride is, the greater the age difference between her and her spouse. In Nigeria, the mean age difference between spouses is 12.0 years if the wife marries before age 15, compare to 8.5 years if the wife marries at or after age 20. Spousal age defferences between spouses is 15.3 years compared to 8.8 years in monogamous marriages. 84% of first birth to adolescent girls in Nigeria occur with marriage.

Among married girls aged 15-19, 62% have already given birth. Almost one of four married girls give birth before age 15. Child marriage is closely associated with no or low levels of schooling for girls. Girls with three or fewer years of schooling are five times more likely than girls with eight or more years of schooling to marry before the age of 18. Poverty leads many families to withdraw their daughters from school and arrange marriages for them at a young age. These girls are denied benefits of education, improved health, lower fertility, and increased economic productivity.

A sense of social insecurity has been a cause of child marriages across the world. In Nepal, parents fear likely social stigma if grown-up adult girls (past 18 years) stay at home. Other fear of crime, such as rape, which not only would be traumatic but may lead less acceptance of the girl if she becomes victim of crime(Thapa, 1996). In other cultures, the fear is that an unmarried girl may engage in illicit relationships (USA Today, 2009) or elope causing a permanent social blemish to her siblings, or that the impoverished family may be unable to find bachelors for grown up girls in economic social group. Such fears and social pressures have been proposed as causes that lead to child marriage.

Child marriage has lasting consequences on girls, which last beyond adolescence (Human Rights Watch, 2013). Women married in their teens or earlier, struggle with the health effects of getting pregnant too young and too often. Early marriages followed by teen pregnancy also significantly increased birth complications and social isolations. In poor countries, early pregnancy limits or eliminates their education options. These affect their economic independence.

Child marriage threatens the health and life of girls(Jamjoon, 2010).

Complications from pregnancy and child birth are the main causes of death among adolescent girls below age 19 in developing countries. These consequences are due largely to girls’ immaturity where the pelvis and birth canal are not fully developed. Teenage pregnancy, particularly below the age 15, increases the risk of developing obsteric fistula, since their smaller pelvis make them prone to obstructed labour.

In September 2011, a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly(A/RES/66/170) designated October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. On October 11, 2012, the first International Day of the Girl Child was held, the theme of which was ending child marriage.

In 2013, the first United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution

against child early, and forced marriages was adopted; it recognises child marriage as a human right violation and pledges to eliminate the practice as part of the UN’s post -2015 global development agenda (Stuart, 2013).

In 2014, the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women issued a document in which they agreed, among other things, to eliminate child marriage.

Purpose of Study

There are reported cases of child marriage in some parts of Nigeria. This study intends to find out the awareness of people on child marriage and to know whether the implications of such are known to parents.

Appropriate steps could then be taken for proper enlightenment of Nigerians on the issue of child marriage.

Research Questions

The following research questions were proposed for the study:

(i). What is the level of awareness of parents on child marriage?

.(ii). Do parents know the implications of child marriage?

(iii). What could be done to nip in the bud of incidences of child marriage?

Hypotheses Tested

(i). There will be no significant difference in the awareness of male and female on child marriage.

(ii). There will be no significant difference in the awareness of urban and rural dwellers on child marriage .

(iii). There will be no significant difference in the awareness of the rich and the poor on child marriage.

Methodology

The study is a survey research. The sample for the study consisted of two hundred (200) respondents from Lapai and Minna in Niger State of Nigeria. While Lapai is a developing town, Minna is a developed city of Niger State. Each paired identified group comprised two hundred(200) respondents. Questionaires were distributed to all the respondents in Lapai and collected after two days of administration. Another two days were set aside for the administration and collection of the questionaire for respondents in Minna. Those who could not read and write were assisted with the use of local interpreters, and their responses recorded. All the two hundred (200) copies of the questionnaire were collected.

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Instrumentation

The instrument for data collection was the questionnaire designed by the researcher tagged :CHILD MARRIAGE AWARENESS QUESTIONAIRE. The instrument is a two (2) point scale with the ranking of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. If the list of ‘No’ responses outnumbers the list of ‘Yes’ responses, it indicates positive awareness on child marriage, while the list of many ‘Yes’ responses that outnumber the list of ‘No’ indicates negative awareness on child marriage. The instrument was administered after two weeks of the first administration, the result of which yielded a coefficient value of internal consistency of 0.83, which made it suitable for the study.

Data Analysis

Data collected were analysed, using the rank ordering technique. The t-test was used in comparing the groups.

Results

Table 1: Awareness on Child Marriage by Male and Female respondents

S/N Item Yes No Percentage of ‘Nos’ Ranking of ‘Nos’

1. Legally-prescribed age for marriage is 18 years 135 65 32.5% 10th

2. Child marriage is related to forced early marriage 14 186 93% 5th

3. In child marriage, only one marriage-partner is a child i.e female 123 77 38.5% 9th

4. The Child Rights Act (2003) raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 for girls 21 179 89.5% 70th

5. Marriage before age 18 is not the ideal 09 191 95.5 2nd

6. Domestic violence is associated with child marriage 17 183 91.5% 6th

7. Girls with low level of schooling are involved in child marriage 13 187 93.5% 4th

8. Poverty is associated with child marriage 11 189 94.5% 3rd

9. Social insecurity may be a reason for child marriage 115 85 42.5% 8th

10. Child marriage threatens the health and life of girls 06 194 97% 1st

Result in Table 1 indicates that 70% of the respondents have positive awareness on child marriage, while only 30% have negative awareness on child marriage.

Table 2: Awareness on child marriage by the rich and poor respondents.

S/N Item Yes No Percentage of ‘Nos’ Ranking of ‘Nos’

1. Legally-prescribed age for marriage is 18 years 169 31 15.5% 10th

2. Child marriage is related to forced early marriage 10 190 95% 6th

3. In child marriage, only one marriage-partner is a child i.e female 143 57 28.5% 9th

4. The Child Rights Act (2003) raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 for girls 22 178 89% 8th

5. Marriage before age 18 is not the ideal 03 197 98.5% 2nd

6. Domestic violence is associated with child marriage 04 196 98% 4th

7. Girls with low level of schooling are involved in child marriage 03 197 98.5% 2nd

8. Poverty is associated with child marriage 02 198 99% 1st

9. Social insecurity may be a reason for child marriage 13 187 93.5% 7th

10. Child marriage threatens the health and life of girls 07 193 96.5% 5th

Table 2 indicates that 80% of the respondents have positive awareness on child marriage while 20% have negative awareness on child marriage.

Table 3: Awareness on Child Marriage by Urban and rural respondents

S/N Item Yes No Percentage of ‘Nos’ Rankings of ‘Nos’

1 Legally-prescribed age for marriage is 18 years 27 173 86.5% 10th

2 Child marriage is related to forced early marriage 13 187 93.5% 8th

3 In child marriage, only one marriage-partner is a child i.e female 07 193 96.5% 6th

4 The Child Rights Act (2003) raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 for girls 01 199 99.5% 1st

5 Marriage before age 18 is not the ideal 15 185 92.5% 9th

6 Domestic violence is associated with child marriage 07 193 96.5% 6th

7 Girls with low level of schooling are involved in child marriage 03 197 98.5% 3rd

8 Poverty is associated with child marriage 02 198 99% 2nd

9 Social insecurity may be a reason for child marriage 17 183 93.5% 8th

10 Child marriage threatens the health and life of girls 04 196 98% 4th

Table 3 indicates positive awareness on child marriage by urban and rural dwellers. 100% of the respondents have positive awareness on child marriage, while others have negative awareness on child marriage

Table 4:

Hypothesis 1: There will be no significant difference in the awareness of male and female respondents on child marriage.

N X SD df t-cal t-value

100 15.54 3.9 99 0.0 1.980

100 4.64 2.2 99

Result in table 4 indicates that t-cal is less than t-value at 0.05 level of significance. Thus the hypothesis is accepted i.e that there is no significant difference in the awareness of male and female respondents on child marriage.

Table 5:

Hypothesis 2: There will be no significant difference in the awareness of rich and poor respondents on child marriage.

N X SD Df t-cal t-value

100 16.24 4.02 99 0.0 1.980

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100 3.73 1.93 99

Table 5 Result indicates that the t-cal is less than the t-value at 0.05 level of significance. Thus,the hypothesis is accepted. i.e that there is no significant difference in the awareness of the rich and the poor on child marriage.

Table 6:

Hypothesis 3: There will be no significant difference in the awareness of urban and rural dwellers on child marriage.

N X SD Df t-cal t-value

100 19.04 4.36 99 0.0 1.980

100 0.96 0.0096 99

The result in table 6 indicates that the t-cal is less than the t-value at 0.05 level of significance. Thus, the hypothesis is accepted i.e that there is no significant difference in the awareness of urban and rural dwellers on child marriage.

Discussion of findings

Tables 1 and 4 show the level awareness of the male and female respondents as being positive on child marriage. This is because of the responses in Table 1 and the hypothesis tested in table 4 was accepted. This awareness might be due to age-long practice among the people which has been passed from one generation to the other. Infact, the culture permits the practice of child marriage.

Tables 2 and 5 show the awareness of the rich and the poor respondents as being positive on child marriage. The responses in Table 2 indicates this; while the hypothesis tested in Table 5 was accepted. The influence of money could not be ruled out as the rich people would be willing to have little girls for marriage.

The poor people would also strive to find ways of getting the needed dowry fees to have girls for early marriage. Many with certain religious inclinations would see nothing wrong in having girls for early marriage since it permits the adherents to do so.

Tables 3 and 6 show the awareness of the urban and rural dwellers as being positive on child marriage. The responses in Table 3 indicates this; while the hypothesis tested in table 6 was accepted. Many embrace the practice of child marriage for the reason of social security i.e they feel if girls do not marry at an early age, getting to ages of 20 and above could pose difficult for them to get married, since according to them, such girls have lost the piety of womanhood.

Conclusion

From the findings in this study, it is evident that the awareness of parents who engage in child marriage remains positive. Those who are yet to marry are also in support of such practice. To change that belief, which has been an age-long one, may prove difficult. With gradual intervention, people may change from the practice. However, such intervention would have to be multi-packaged.

Recommendations

This paper therefore recommends that;

1. There could be more enlightenment programmes for Nigerians so that child marriage could be reduced to the barest minimum.

2. Appropriate legislation could be made to curb the incidences of child marriage.

3. There could be expansion of educational structures to accommodate children who are ripe for schooling.

4. Community Counselling Centres need to be established in all the 774 local government areas in Nigeria(fully staffed with qualified personnel) to counsel people on the need for ripe-age marriage.

References

Brinkley & Chronicle(2010): Child Marriage still an issue in Saudi Arabia

HRW(2013): Child Marriage and Violations of Girls Rights. Human Rights

Watch.

IRTN(2010): Philiphines: Early Marriage Put Girls At Risk. United Nations

News Service.

IWHC(2008): Child Marriage : Girls Below Age 14 At Risk. International

Women Health Coalition

Jamjoon(2010) : Yemini Child Bride Dies Of Internal Bleeding. CNN

Jamjoon(2013): Yemini Child Bride Eight Dies Of Internal Injuries On first

night Of first Marriage to Groom five times her age. Mart Blake Daily Mail, United Kingdom.

KAMBA(2013): Child Brides Die young. Africa in Fact Journal. August.

Population Council(2004).

Stuart H. (2013): Country with the most child’s bride won’t agree to end first child marriage. Huffington Post.

Thapas (1996) : Prevalence & Correlates Contributions to Nepalese Studies .

23(2) pp 361-375.

UNICEF (2001) : Early Marriage, Child Spouses . Section on Asia p.4.

UNICEF (2011): Child Marriage

UNICEF (2012) : A note on Child Marriage . July p. 3.

UNPF (2012): Marrying Too Yougs, End Child Marriage. United Nations Populations Fund p. 23

US (2010) : Child Marriage _ What we know ? Public Broadcasting

Service, United States

USA Today (2009) : Eight Year Old Saudi Girl Divorces 50-year old

husband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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