Changing dynamics of early marriage in rural areas of northern Nigeria

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Muhammad Abdullahi Maigari

Abstract

Abstract
The paper examines the changes that occurred over time between Christians and Muslim in rural settlements. The study collected data from focus group discussions (FGDs) with married literate adolescent girls and unmarried non-literate adolescent girls. Christian and Muslim faith leaders as well as a government official were interviewed. The study revealed the rising rate of early marriage among Christians who were hitherto known to the delayed marriage of girl-child above 18 years. These changes have been attributed to the rising rate of poverty. This is because most of the rural families in the areas surveyed regardless of their faith; are polygamous because of the nature of their occupation––subsistence farming which relied on manual labour from the family. Cultural beliefs are still adhered to in rural settlements, most parents viewed girl-child as a problem which if left unmarried, may bring shame to the family: teenage pregnancy out of wedlock which is regarded as a taboo. The paper concludes that there is a need for the cultural reorientation and awareness on how rural dwellers view girl-child. Also, it is pertinent to introduce poverty reduction projects in rural areas and the establishment of schools closer to the people as well as imparting sex education

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