The transition from premarital sexual relationships and courtship to marriage and parenthood in southeastern Nigeria involves particularly dramatic adjustments for young women who have absorbed changing ideas about sexuality, marriage, and gender equality, and who have had active premarital sexual lives. In the eyes of society, these women must transform from being promiscuous girls to good wives. Historically, the rise of romantic love as a marital ideal has sometimes been perceived to be associated with greater gender equality, as changes in expectations for and practices in marriage are tied to the erosion of a highly sex-segregated division of labor. In many settings, transformations in the dynamics of marital intimacy have been interpreted as offering women the possibility of utilizing emotional leverage with their husbands to negotiate more equitable domestic arrangements Collier , Hirsch , Rebhun But in Nigeria changes in marriage and in the public and private dimensions of gender asymmetry have not occurred uniformly or beyond the continuing influence of powerful kinship systems and structures of inequality. Further, once a couple is married, kin relationships frequently impinge on contemporary conjugal life, perhaps most overtly with regard to fertility and parenting. A gendered division of labor continues to characterize many spheres of Nigerian social life, even as urbanization, formal education, and broader trends toward individualism produce changes that push against entrenched gendered social organization.
What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?
Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?
The idea of a younger woman marrying a much older man and vice versa is nothing new. In fact, the society we live in makes it very easy for older men to have very young brides, though the concept of older women getting young husbands is not very common. It is often easier for an older man married to a young to be accepted than for a mature woman with younger male partner. Discussing with some of our readers, majority said it was okay for an older man to marry a young wife but not okay for an older woman to take up a young husband. Most of the ladies said they can marry someone over years older. Some said they were already married to men much older than they are and they are enjoying their marriage.
Speaking in condemnation of the marriage, Hussaini Abdu — Country Director for the child rights organisation in Nigeria — said:. It not only robs them of their rights, but also of their childhoods. A girl who is married before the age of 18 is more likely to drop out of school, to become a child mother, to die during pregnancy or childbirth, and to be trapped in a lifetime of poverty. Girls in Nigeria are already treated as second class citizens, but when they are trapped in a marriage they never wanted, it is even more difficult for them to get their voices heard. Their hopes and dreams are limited as soon as they start their new lives, they are often cut off from family and friends, and they are highly likely to face domestic and sexual violence. It is a gross violation of their fundamental human rights, and there are absolutely no circumstances under which it should be acceptable. The government of Nigeria must do more to combat this practice, to protect girls and to enable them to live their lives freely, as equals to boys and men.