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By 2050, Nigeria may have 29m child brides – UNICEF

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From Winifred Bosa, Lagos

A REPORT by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has projected that Nigeria will have 29 million child brides by 2050.

  The report, which also raised concern that millions of children in Nigeria are victims of violence, was contained in the document ‘Situation Analysis of Children in Nigeria: Ensuring equitable and sustainable realisation of child rights in Nigeria’ launched by the federal government in conjunction with UNICEF.

  The report put the country’s current number of child brides at 22 million, representing 40 per cent of such cases in West and Central Africa, warning that seven million more child brides will be added by 2050.

  While referencing the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2013, the report said 58.2 per cent of Nigerian girls were married before they attain 18 years of age.

  It noted that although a comparison of data for the period 2013 – 2017 indicated a decline in child marriage in Nigeria is declining, the rate of decline is, however, slow as Nigeria ranks among the countries with the slowest declining rate of child marriage in West and Central Africa.

  It stated that the North-west geo-political zone had the highest proportion of women who married before 15 years or 32.5 per cent, while the South-east recorded the lowest proportion of women who married before this age or 4.1 per cent.

The report further said that by 2018, the percentage of women marrying before 18 years had declined from 48 per cent to 43 per cent while the percentage of women aged 15-19 marrying before age 15 declined from 12 per cent to eight per cent.

  “The rate of decline is also not enough to significantly reduce child marriage in Nigeria under current conditions. Even if efforts are redoubled, Nigeria will add about seven million child brides by 2050. This is because the statistically observed decline will be upended by population growth and the prevalence of child marriage in some regions and cultures, erasing whatever little progress is made in reducing child marriage in Nigeria.

  “To effectively reduce child marriage in Nigeria, some challenges would need to be overcome. These include the lack of domestication of the CRA by many states in the federation (particularly in northern Nigeria) and the failure of the federal government to legislate and enforce 18 years as the minimum age for individuals seeking or contracting any marriage recognised by the constitution of the federation,” the report averred.

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