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Early marriage, polygamy cause poverty, domestic violence – Economist

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Dr Chiwuike Uba, a development economist, has blamed rising cases of domestic violence and poverty on early marriage and polygamy.

Mr Uba, a researcher with the African Heritage Institute (Afri Heritage) made the observation in Enugu on Thursday while presenting his research on “How Polygamy Breeds Poverty in Different Parts of Nigeria”.

Mr Uba noted that early marriage was associated with much higher reproductive rates, with its implications on poverty and security.

According to him, instead of delaying marriage and procreation until age of 20 or 30, women get married and have children in their teens.

“Early marriage to a much older male is also linked to deadly domestic violence.

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‘The greater the age difference, the greater the likelihood that the husband will kill his wife, and vice versa (the young woman murders her husband).

“The age difference exacerbates gender differences and, for men, is more likely to lead to jealous fears that their young women will be unfaithful,” he said.

He said that for a female teen, marriage to a much older man made it unlikely that she would have an equal partnership with her husband and made the completion of her education difficult, if not impossible.

The economist noted that women with no education were much more likely to have co-wives, or rather be in polygamous marriages than women who have more than a secondary education.

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He said that regional percentages of the population in polygamous marriages in Nigeria are North Central – 22.5 per cent, North East – 31.2 per cent, North West – 35.9 per cent, South East – 6.9 per cent, South West -12.9 per cent and South South – 7.6 per cent.

He said: “Polygamous families are more likely to be poor than monogamous families.

“Firstly, fathers’ investments in their children are diluted because marriage to other young women is still an option.  A husband’s resources of time, attention and money are diverted from his own children and towards finding new partners.

“Second, the increased number of children in polygamous families makes it increasingly difficult to provide each child with adequate time and attention.

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“Some fathers don’t even know each child’s name because of the number of children they have.

“Poverty headcount rates for different households are: 2.66 per cent for household with one person; 17.88 per cent for 2-4 persons; 40.90 per cent for 5-9 persons, 62.27 per cent for 10-19 persons and 77.66 per cent for 20 or more persons.

“It is no accident that the regions with the highest rate of polygamous marriages in Nigeria are also the poorest,” he added.


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