Campaign Update

The Case to #EndChildMarriage around the World

Carolyn Seaman
Posted July 14, 2018 from Nigeria

At the age of 14, I excitingly resume my senior secondary school but notice a school mate is not back in school. And a few weeks later, I learn that she got married to her father’s friend as his third wife and I never encountered her again until this day. I doubt that Hadiza ever completed her secondary education let alone experience a university education. On another part, I wonder how life turned out for her and I can only pray that she survived the marriage she found herself in – so early in her life. I pray she had safe deliveries without any health complications. I pray that she never became a victim of any form of violence in her home. And why did I pray all these? Studies have shown a number of connected issues to child marriage.

Child marriage is simply a formal marriage or informal union involving any person(s) under the age of 18 years. Many times we only have pictures of marriages like that of Hadiza in our heads when we think of child marriage. However, there are also marriage unions that involve children (both parties in the union are under the age of 18 years). And this is why; we need to be cautious when we term these unions ‘marriage’. In the words of the Ambassador of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, it is not a marriage, its abuse! She warns about how we sometimes rationalize the union in our heads when we continue to unconsciously call it a marriage. However, it remains the only formal way to refer to it, so we simply need to maintain that conscious understanding that it is not a marriage and must not be accepted as such.  

The drivers of child marriage vary from community to community. In my community, child marriage is largely driven by:

Poverty – where the larger population are extremely poor people (living below $1 per day).

Culture – where there is strong perception that girls need to be married off early to prevent them from falling pregnant or becoming loose/wayward girls. Then, there is the perception that is rooted in the history of patriarchy and gender inequality where social norms already discriminate girls and women and treats them as objects to be exploited as desired.

Religion – where some religious beliefs have emerged from individual and collective interpretation of religious instructions and expect a girl to experience her first menstruation in her husband’s house.

Poor educational attainment – where there is poor access to quality education which is also influenced by poor government investment in education and parents argue that there is no value in sending girls to school when they don’t necessarily emerge as sound educated individuals who can stand out in society.

Poor implementation of policies and poor enforcement of laws – where perpetrators of child marriage continue to go unpunished and the impunity continues. The Nigerian Constitution does not establish a minimum age of marriage, but the Child Rights Act, 2003 sets that age of marriage at 18 years old. However, only 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states have domesticated the Child Rights Law in their States. And no implementation has been recorded in terms of enforcement of these laws.

In Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 17% are married before they turn 15. Regional variations show prevalence of child marriage to be as high as 76% in the North West region and as low as 10% in the South East. Although data shows a 9% decline in the prevalence of child marriage since 2003, action is still needed to prevent thousands of girls from being married as the population growth from these marriages rule out the potential of any significant decline. Globally, 650 million women alive today were married as children and 12 million girls are married every year. We need to stop the abuse! We need to end child marriage!

What am I doing to #EndChildMarriage? I lead my team, at Girls Voices Initiative, to design creative programs to educate adolescent girls about their rights as enshrined in law and we empower them to lead advocacy for girls’ rights including an end to child marriage, end to gender based violence and promoting girls’ education. We have worked with girls to develop audio-visual resources where girls champion advocacy for an end to child marriage. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbCFU8aAcLs&list=PLuPEQeI98dCuC_xbSMU_C1...) and (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPOd4tA6FzY) Now, we are targeting survivors of child marriage with personal agency workshops, vocational and entrepreneurship skills to empower them as advocates modelling the potential of women to break the cycle of poverty that results from child marriage when the girls’ education has been terminated and she has no skills and no means of income. Understanding that these girls were married not of their mature understanding or consent, we cannot abandon these girls in the marriages, but explore opportunities to meet them where they are and target them with skills that they can use to improve their chances of livelihood. Join me to break the cycle of poverty for survivors of child marriage!

Data credits: https://www.girlsnotbrides.org

Comments 19

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Olubee
Jul 14, 2018
Jul 14, 2018

Dear Carolyn,

To stand up for these course ,especially in the northern part of Nigeria is a great task.,where early married is the order of the day,and government is doing less or nothing to stop this barbaric act.I can only wish you success in your campaign.Well done sis.

Much Love.

Olutosin
Jul 14, 2018
Jul 14, 2018

Great work dear sister. Thank you.

Jill Langhus
Jul 15, 2018
Jul 15, 2018

Hi Carolyn,

Thanks for sharing your impressive and informative videos, post and work with us. I'm always impressed with your efforts to end child marriage and GBV. Do let me know if there is anything I can do to help you in your endeavors.

I want to encourage you to write and submit your story for the current story awards "Wealth of Women:" https://www.worldpulse.com/en/voices-rising/story-awards/85951. Be sure to include your social links and website.

Also, you may want to apply for the following awards/prizes:https://www.girlrising.com/challenge (ends August 15)https://amplifychange.org/grant-model/network/ (ends July 31)

And, there is also an opportunity to apply for a free, six month mentoring on the "Resources" page, if you are interested: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/bim/resources/86074.

Good luck, and hope you have a great day!!!

Obisakin Busayo
Jul 15, 2018
Jul 15, 2018

Good job my Sister! Keep soaring!

Warmest Love

Busayo

Obisakin Busayo
Jul 15, 2018
Jul 15, 2018

Good Job my Sister! Keep soaring

Warmest Love

Busayo

SIMON MUREU
Jul 15, 2018
Jul 15, 2018

Of course you are doing it better.I did it in my tweeter last year

Stephanie Mah
Jul 16, 2018
Jul 16, 2018

Hi sis,

Nice work you are doing keep up.

Beth Lacey
Jul 19, 2018
Jul 19, 2018

Good luck with your powerful work.

Beth

Tarke Edith
Jul 20, 2018
Jul 20, 2018

Helo   Carolyn thank you for taken such a great task to eradicate child marriages in your community  keep up sister you succeed

Tecenta Achiri
Jul 21, 2018
Jul 21, 2018

Dear sister 

This is indeed a great task and courage on your endeavors 

Ngala Nadege
Jul 22, 2018
Jul 22, 2018

Hello sister,thank you so much for sharing .Early marriages in Arica in general is growing up and its consequences are very disastrous. It is a very great task for leaders ,parents, NGO's, government and everyone to stop this phenomenom.

Rosylyne Nabaala
Jul 22, 2018
Jul 22, 2018

Girls are not cows to be taken to the market for sale but they are our children and we are suppose to love them and give them their rights including education. Thank you for this dear. 

Tamarack Verrall
Jul 25, 2018
Jul 25, 2018

Dear Carolyn,

The work you are doing is phenomenal. Thanks to you the strong voices of so many girls tell stories all too real to them. I hope these videos/films travel far and wide so that many can see, hear and experience the determined and powerful voices of these girls. Girls are calling for change, loudly, proudly and with arms linked with each other. Wow! Breaking free of the silence created by those who refuse to believe that change is not only possible, but essential to basic Human Rights. It is so encouraging to see so many girls speaking out so strongly. Big congratulations for what you have made possible.

Love always,

Tam

Chinyere Okoh
Aug 01, 2018
Aug 01, 2018

Thank you for such a lovely article. It portrays an issue in Nigeria that really needs tackling.

leila Kigha
Aug 14, 2018
Aug 14, 2018

Yes sister. It stand with you to break this evil cycle fuelled by greed and egotism. 

Its a daunting task true but we can and we are making a difference one girl at a time.

God speed my sister.

Jafreen Alamgir
Aug 17, 2018
Aug 17, 2018

Very informative and I really appreciate that you have shared with the community. Thank you so much for sharing how women are still facing the challenges of child marriage.

Akinjise Daniel
Aug 29, 2018
Aug 29, 2018

Hi Carolyn, Thanks for sharing. It's a really great work you're doing, please keep it up

bridggyella
Aug 29, 2018
Aug 29, 2018

You write beautifully. I believe some day all these will be a story of the past and the girl child will once again be allowed to be a child. thank you for sharing.

chimdirimebere
Sep 05, 2018
Sep 05, 2018

Dear Carol,

The worrisome aspect of this war is that the people that are supposed to be fighting are the culprits of this heinous crime especially in the Northern part of the country.  Be encouraged that one day the story will change to a beautiful song as people get informed on the dangers of child marriage and as more girls get educated.  Well done dear!

Harriet Chimdirimebere