Child Marriage Violates Human Dignity

Girl RunningImagine if you or your family member was married of by the age of 11.

This is the reality for more than 14 million girls globally every year, according to statistics by GirlsNotBrides. Every 3 seconds, a young girl is married. These are alarming facts, as it is a gross violation of the rights of the girl and her dignity. It takes away her opportunity for integral growth, and her right to education.

It is therefore with utmost displeasure that I bring to your notice that the Nigeria’s National Assembly are working assiduously to legalize child marriage.

The upper legislative house (the Senate) in one of their recent plenary sessions voted on the motion to pass eighteen years of age as the minimum marriage age amongst girls. Thirty-five (35) of the senators voted against the motion, while sixty (60) senators voted in favor of the motion. Since it requires two-third (2/3) majority for the motion to pass, thirteen (13) more votes were required for those that voted in favor of the motion.

There is intense lobbying now in the lower chamber of the legislative house (Federal House of Representatives) to scuttle the motion, since they have greater number of representatives. A former governor of Zamfara State who is also a serving senator is now desperately advocating against this motion because he married a thirteen year old girl from Egypt. Egyptian law never allowed child marriage; to marry the girl, he came to Nigeria. Muslims in Nigeria are now breathing fire and brimstone, saying that it is against Islamic law to stipulate marriage age, and that Islam allows child marriage.

Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the General Assembly of the United Nations states: “(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during and marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.”

The World Youth Alliance is committed to building free and just societies through a culture of life, a culture that affirms the inalienable dignity of the human person, defends the intrinsic right to life, nurtures the family, and fosters a social climate favorable to integral development, solidarity, and mutual respect. I hereby urge all World Youth Alliance members around the globe to stand up and condemn this dastardly act in its entirety.

By: Emepuru Albert Somkelechukwu, an active WYA Member from Nigeria