Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin

The Kwara State Government has decried the high rate of early child marriage in the state.

Accordingly, the state government said it was poised to make those who put their girl children to early marriage face the consequences of their action,

Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Taibat Ahmed, has said.

She added that statistics had shown in Nigeria that about six million girls get married by age of 15, adding that the state adds significantly to the number.

The commissioner said this, on Thursday, in Ilorin, the state capital, during one day workshop on the right of a girl organised by Women and Youth Development Initiative (WOYODEV).

Hajia Ahmed said that the state government would help the girl child in the state lead a wholesome life for her to achieve her dreams.

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Said she: “We will continue to seek partnership and give support to individuals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations (CSOs) to address issues affecting women and girls and the community at large with the interest of ending child marriage and other child right issues.

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“Child marriage which has its root cause in socio-cultural beliefs, ignorance and poverty, has various side effects as it puts our girls at high risk of health complications including HIV, VVF and maternal mortality.

“As such child marriage is a barrier to socio-economic development as it represents a detrimental life-course shift during the crucial period of adolesence.”

Earlier, Executive Director, WOYODEV Tosin Ajayi, said her organisation had so far registered no fewer than 6,000 girls vulnerable to early marriage.

Mrs. Ajayi added that other criteria considered in registering the girls include those without parents, those with indigent background, out of school girls and those already in early marriage.

She added that the menace of early girl child marriage is prevalence in the northern part of the state.

Her words: “In the developing world, Nigeria inclusive, one in three girls is married before 18 and one in nine before the age of 15.

“A confluence of social, economic, cultural and political factors perpetuate this harmful practice, which right in the nexus of all these factors are unequal norms and power relations that devalue and restrict women and girls.

“In Nigeria, the number of girls affected by child marriage is high, this is due largely to the population of our country. According to statistics, Nigeria ranks 14th among the 20 countries with the highest rate of child marriage in the world.”