Increasingly more girls in Nigeria are finding themselves getting married as early as twelve years old. Not only are they becoming child brides, but they are being forced to drop out of school. At a young age these girls are robbed of an education, and an opportunity to gain vocational and life skills. Also, by being married at an early age, these girls are more susceptible to becoming victims of domestic violence or dying from child birth.
One such bride is thirteen year old Yalwa, who is married to a man in his 30’s. She had hoped that by getting married she’d afford to go to school. She wanted to finish her education so that she could become either a doctor or a midwife. Instead, she is stuck at home, pregnant, with no running water and little electricity.
Girls like Yalwa can be found all over Nigeria. Most of them claim that if they had the money and resources, they would go to school and gain a meaningful employment. Instead, they are being married off from one poor family to another, denied of their basic rights to an education. This is affecting the overall education progress in the country.
The Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report revealed that the process of providing education in Nigeria is declining. Also, 58 percent of girls from poor and rural households most often don’t get a chance to go to school. Among the women between the ages of 15 and 29, 32 percent are illiterate and 52 percent are semi-literate.
As more girls are getting married at an early age, education will continue to be lacking in Nigeria. The number of illiterates and unemployment will rise. Without an education, these girls will grow up stuck in poverty, and unable to defend their rights. The lack of access to a school can also be detrimental to their health. Without the basic knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases and giving birth, there will be an increase in maternal mortality.
The rise in child brides is not only happening in Nigeria, but in many parts of the world as well. This was recently discussed by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. He stated that by 2020, more than 140 million girls around the world are likely to become child brides.
“Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects,” said Osotimehin.
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