Nigeria begins campaign against child marriage

Rafat Salami

Nigerian government is set to launch a campaign against child marriages in line with resolutions reached by the 25th African Union Ordinary Session of Heads of State in June 2015.

Minister of Women Affairs Hajiya Aisha Alhassan said the Nigeria is launching the campaign as a demonstration of its commitment to eradicating the practice which robs children of their childhood.

Alhassan said African countries were faced with the challenges of child marriage which robbed girls or children of their education, health and future.

 “Global communities and Nigeria in particular are increasingly recognising child marriage as a serious challenge, both as a violation of human rights and a hindrance to key developmental outcomes,’’ she said.

She said according to UNICEF findings, 15 million children are married off every year globally with devastating consequences on their general wellbeing.

“This is very disturbing as it is further revealed that 15 out of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world are in Afri’’

The minister said Fifteen African countries have so far launched the campaign to end child marriage listing the countries to include “Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Niger, the Islamic Republic of Gambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Zambia, Chad, Burkina Faso , Mali and Madagascar.”

She said a National Technical Working Group set up to end child marriage in the country was inaugurated on July 23, 2015, by the ministry.

Alhassan urged the media, development partners and other stakeholders to redouble their efforts in ensuring girl’s rights to freedom from child marriage and other forms of violence against children.

She also urged all stakeholders in the campaign to be more proactive and come up with concrete actions to end child marriage in the country.

NAN/Rafat S.