Nigeria is home to the largest number of child brides in Africa, with 23 million girls and women who are married in childhood according to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
The practice has continued to gain eminence in northern Nigeria due to prevailing attitudes in an area with gender disparity.
In early marriage situations, the young “brides” are not given a choice and are involved in relationships without a feeling of love. As a result, the emotional state of girls becomes slightly unstable. She is not mature enough mentally to cope with all the difficulties and questions in her mind. They find only two ways out – commit suicide or run away with the kids from their husbands to some distant relatives. This leads to social renunciation and shame put on her family. Moreover, they still stay face-to-face with their difficulties with no help.
Also, It is proved that the female body is formed only by 18 years to reproduce the offspring. An unformed body is not able to provide proper conditions and normal development of the fetus. Moreover, in families with early marriage, one observes the highest mortality rate among both newborns and women themselves.
Hadija, now 18 years old, was to be sold off to a 60-year-old man at age 12. This situation was not pleasing to her as she wanted to go to school like some other girls.
Her parents also were not so pleased about it but it was what they saw as an option since they had no money to take care of her. For an average Northern girl who is not in school, early marriage might be the next thing.
When asked if it was fair to do that to a young girl, her father said “I wish I could even marry her off to someone not that old, but we need the money to take care of her other siblings”. Her mother said, “I am not pleased with marrying my daughter off but it’s what I have to do. If my daughter doesn’t get married and also not in school, she might end up being promiscuous”.
CEF heard about this and enrolled her in a private school there. This step has helped Hadija a great deal out of the danger of being married off at an early age.
Being in school reduced her chance of being exposed to predators who would request that she is married off to them.
Hadija is now a secondary school graduate, she is hoping to get into the university anytime soon.
Hadija says “ I’m really grateful to everyone who contributed toward my senior secondary school education. I am happy I’m now a Secondary school graduate”.
CEF is committed to children like this. Children who constantly have to face the part of life that is characterized by fear and hopelessness as a result of early marriage and poverty.
We would like to get more children like Hadija in school. These children need us, they are hopeless but we can be a source of help to them. Our little can do so much. Adopt/sponsor a child and together we can make these children see a better life ahead of them.