By Mustapha Adamu, Kano
The minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, has said that parents who marry off their daughters below the age of 18 are putting their lives in danger.
The minister stated this at the graduation ceremony of fistula disease survivors held at Government House, Kano on Monday.
According to her, early marriage causes problems to the girl’s physical and social life, adding that the practice also hampers education and future development.
The minister maintained that child marriage was the major cause of fistula disease among the girls who are below 18 years as their body can not endure the rigors of pregnancy and child bearing.
“What I want to advocate to parents who give out the hands of their daughters in marriage before reaching 18 years or before they are fully matured is that they are ruining their lives. Because, before a girl reaches 18 years, even her body is not ready for the rigorous processes of pregnancy and child bearing. That will ruin her education and future completely.
“We therefore call on them to send their girls to school until they finish at least secondary school. Through this, they would become educated mothers and use the education they acquire to better their lives,” she said.
Mrs. Alhassan also advocated for girl child education, saying with the education, the girls would have a means of earning a living.
“The society as a whole would benefit to the girl child education,” she added.
In his remarks, the minister of Health, Isaac Adewale, said Nigeria’s population would double by 2030, adding that the high population growth could be attributed to high fertility rate, standing at 5.5.
“A low contraceptive prevalence rate, standing around 15% as well as unmet need for family planning. Let me remind you that about one-third of Nigeria’s population comprises young people between the ages of 10 and 24. These age group is frequently exposed to early marriage as well as sexual activities with a resultant prevalence of unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS and fistula disease,” he said.
The minister, represented by Kahinde Afolabi, also called on parents to take the issue of early marriage serious considering its adverse effects to the girls’ lives.