According to statistics provided by the UNICEF “In Nigeria, nearly half of all women (48 percent) are married before the age of 18 and nearly one-third of women aged 15-19 years (29 percent) are currently married.”

Although there was a recorded positive changed in the numbers from between 2007 and 2011, that didn’t last long as the prevalence of early marriage slightly increased again in 2013.

In recent times, there has been a rise in awareness with regards to gender equality in Nigeria through the use of social media. But amongst the core issues that have been addressed, the topic of child marriage, especially in northern Nigeria is the least discussed.

In many places around the world, a child officially becomes an adult at the age of 18 and the constitution of the Federal Republic supports Section 23 of the 2003 Nigerian Child Right’s Act.

This section of the constitution says “a person under the age of 18 is incapable of contracting a valid marriage. If such a marriage does take place, it should be declared null and void and of no effect.”

However, the 1999 constitution takes a contradictory stance. In section 29(4b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it states that “any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.”

At present, the age of consent in Nigeria is 11 years of age. Which makes it legal for a child of as young as age 11 to be given away in marriage. This backs up the statistics from the UNICEF that suggests that Nigeria has the 11th highest percentage of child marriages in the globe.

The implication of the stance of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a total of 44 percent of the Nigerian female population (40 million people) going into marriage before they clock 18 years of age.

This also exposes the vulnerable female population within the age range of 11 to 17 years to complications like STIs, VVF, HBP, PPD, and even maternal mortality.

#raisetheage is a movement initiated by It’s Never Your Fault. It’s never your fault is a not-for-profit set up by a group of teenage girls: SusanUbogu ([email protected]), Kudirat Abiola ([email protected]), and Temitayo Asuni ([email protected]).

The purpose of the #raisetheage movement is to get as many people as possible to sign a petition to raise the Nigerian age of consent from 11 years to 18 years and also to ensure that the law is enforced.

This petition aims to make the stance of the Nigerian constitution on child marriage clearer and to create awareness on the dangers associated with marrying off our young girls and endangering their future.

Because of the vagueness of section 29(4b) which states that “This is by its provision that any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age,” people who marry underage girls can walk freely without fear of any legal consequences for their actions.

Please take five minutes of your time to sign this petition I’m saving Nigerian child from early marriage. You just might be touching a few lives by this singular action.

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