CATCH THEM WHILE THEY ARE YOUNG BUT MARRY THEM WHEN THEY ARE RIPE
The marriage of Regina Daniels to Prof. Ned Nwoko is all over the social media and blogs, this brought back an age-old question I have always asked myself, the issue of teen marriage; ‘is it a religious norm or just a selfish ego within the reach of few rich people?, also what age range is considered “under-age”?’
In 2015, a Senate bill was passed into law which legalized the marriageable age to 12 years. It is a pity to see these children marry at such a young age where they have little to no knowledge of what sexual intercourse entails. A child at 11 finds it hard to differentiate between his/her right and left, talk more of even consenting to a commitment as huge as marriage.
A child of such young age is meant to explore the world and discover exciting new things, not confined to marriage and the complexities that come with it. Among the Muslims in northern Nigeria we have many cases of children at the tender age of 10 married off to mostly rich men, it is presumably allowed by the Islamic law. Hilal-Khan 4:6 said “and try orphans until they reach the age of marriage…” commentators of this verse claim that the age of marriage here means post-puberty age, therefore a girl or boy is termed responsible for his/her acts as soon as he/she reaches puberty Ibn Kathir and al-Shafi placed the age at 15.
The pen does not record the deeds of three persons: the child until the age of puberty, the sleeping person until he wakes and the senile until sane.
Child marriage is a disadvantage because it increases the rate of illiteracy for the ladies and even lack of proper social development for the child. It also poses the danger of many health challenges including VVF and is one of the major causes in the increase of maternal and infant mortality rates. As at 2017, according to UNICEF child marriage rates, Nigeria stands at Number 11 in ranking of countries where child marriage prevails and have a percentage of 17% of those that married at the age of 15 and 43% of those that marry at the age of 18 as quoted by girlsnotbrides.org. In as much as some facts stand both against and for teen marriage, the ideal truth is a human being should be allowed to develop his/her life socially, academically, religiously and otherwise. The motivating factor for this early Child marriages are usually selfish gains or lust. Civilization is upon us, however, in the nort, we have very poor educational prowess compared to the other parts of the country.
Our women need to be given good chances to impact the society as much as the men and this is only possible when we liberate the girl child from the shackles of early marriage.
From the above paragraphs we are made to understand that even though it is accepted in Islam a girl should marry early (after puberty), the supposed age is 15 at least and not 12 as accepted by almost 23 states in Nigeria. A girl marrying at such an early age most at times is deprived of her teenage life (a vital developmental stage in human development) by motherhood and many even fail to continue their academic journey if ever there was one.
Yes the religion permits it, yes the law of the land legalizes it; but do not forget, not all legal phenomena are moral. Morality does not stop at you being person with a nice heart but goes also to your humanity, most of these girls are just following parent’s orders not their choice help them make good choice. Letting a girl to reach 18 or 20 before marrying her is not bad, do not marry a girl wait and marry a woman.
Shamoun, Sam. “Qur’an Contradiction: The Age of Marriage”. Answering-Islam.org. Answering-Islam. Web. www.answering-islam.org/Quran/contra/marriage_age.html (Accessed 2 May 2019)
“Child Marriage Rates”. Girlsnotbrides.org. Girls not Brides. Web. www.girlsnotbride.org/child-marriage/nigeria (Accessed 2 May 2019)
Bankole, Everlyn. “What is the Age of Consent in Nigeria?” Legit.ng. Legit. Web. www.legit.ng/1176232-what-age-consent-nigeria.html (Accessed 2 May 2019)
By: Bernard Steven Agwai