ENFORCEABILITY OF AGE LIMIT FOR MARRIAGE AND THE NEED FOR BIRTH CONTROL LEGISLATION IN NIGERIA

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to study

Child marriage is an issue which has raised so many public outbursts and has caused a lot of controversies. It is an issue which comes with a great deal of motions.

Child marriage is tied to a number of factors including religion, traditions and customs. Child marriage usually refers to two phenomena which are practical in some societies. The first is and most common is that of a female young child being give out in marriage to a man. The second practice is a form of arranged marriage in which parents of two children from different families arranged future marriage without seeking the consent of the parties’ involved.[1]

The sufferings faced by victims of child marriage are the physical pain associated with sexual intercourse due to the physiological immaturity of the sexual organs. Physical pain during intercourse, obstetric fistula due to youth delivery, when girls are not physically matured and other complications may arise due to pregnancy. Also lack of education; portraying the lower value placed which in turn denies girl their right and in turn stifles their ability to play an equal role at home and in the communities.

Considering the social evil called child marriage owing to its adverse effect mostly on the female child, the worrying question that part of this work tends to address therefore is; “what is the age limit for a valid marriage in Nigeria?” The answer to this appears to be uncertain. Since there is no prescribed of marriage in the north and also there is no uniformity of application of statutes.[2] Indeed the law for age limit for marriage in Nigeria in the southern part.[3] of Nigeria is not uniform with the Sharia law[4] as it applies in some northern part of Nigeria. This has raised a conflict between sharia law and the provisions of the constitution as well as opposing the provisions of the Child Right Act of 2003.

The other part of this work addresses the dire need for birth control legislation in Nigeria. As at 2015, the Nigeria population has increased rapidly due to high birth rates. According to the United Nation[5] the population of Nigeria will reach three hundred and ninety one million by 2050 and would surpass that of the United States, Nigeria will then be the fourth most populous country in the world. Of which they already rank number one in Africa. However quite regrettably, the population dynamics has shown profound inequalities and disproportions when analyzed with the development indicators of a state. Also there is large visible gap between Nigeria`s population and food consumption.

According to Umeh[6] the population of a place must be such that the available food can sustain it for a long time. The question of population and population growth and the related food and food growth in food population are serious concern to nation and their leaders. This is because increased population has direct consequences on food consumption in the most developing countries like Nigeria; population growth rate is close to a crisis situation. This is because in such state there would be widespread hunger which will result to internal aggression and an internal aggression of crisis sometimes is worse than an external aggression of war.

It is against this backdrop therefore that this study is initiated to underscore the need for birth control legislation in Nigeria and also the need for enforceability for age limit for marriage in Nigeria.