Northern Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 45 percent of girls married by the age of 15. The consequences of child marriage include lack of education, high fertility rate, fistula, pre-eclampsia, malaria, HIV, and even death of the mother or child. In fact, Nigeria has the one of the highest rates of fistula in the world and the highest maternal death rate in Africa.
In 2003, half of Nigeria's states passed the Child Rights Act, which outlaws marriage under the age of 18. However, the law has not been passed in many areas of the country, especially in the Northern mainly Muslim states where the law is viewed as anti-Islamic. The central government is unable to pass national legislation on the subject because federal law allows each state to amend laws to fit their culture and religion.
Work is being done to eliminate child marriage and to help Nigerian girls who have already been married. For example, the Population Council is working with community leaders on raising awareness of the problems with child marriage.
Compiled from: Navai, Ramita, "Broken lives: Nigeria's child brides who end up on the streets," The Times (28 November 2008); Child Marriage Briefing: Nigeria, Population Council (August 2004); Nigeria: Addressing Child Marriage in Northern Nigeria, Population Council (18 March 2008).