Wednesday, 24 July 2013 09:27

NIGERIA: Senate's decision on child marriage violates decency

22 July 2013 - Human rights activist and President of Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, on Monday said that the  Senate’s recent resolution on child marriage violated decency.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that controversy had trailed an amendment that would allow girls under 18 to get married.

The Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 constitution, through a voice vote on July 16, resolved to alter section 29(A) of the constitution.

The Senate, has however, deleted age specification, saying a woman was deemed to be of age once she was married, irrespective of her age.

In an interview with NAN, Odumakin urged Nigerians to reject the resolution as it would be an opportunity for "social perverts to further mess up the lives of our young girls.

"It is expected that the Senate will use the opportunity offered by this constitutional amendment to legislate on those issues that will bring Nigeria into compliance with global trends.

"Trends that will ensure compulsory education for all children, particularly the girls who are most vulnerable.

"This in turn will greatly influence and reduce the alarming trend of those factors that are implications of early marriage, particularly cases of Vesico Vagina Fistula (VVF), which is common in Nigeria.

"Our demand is that the National Assembly should formally include the minimum universal age of 18 for marriage in its amendment of the constitution and make contrary actions punishable.

"This is a challenging moment for voices of courage to speak out loud and clear to stop this perversion by preventing this legislation from coming to reality."

Also, Mrs Amy Oyekunle, the Executive Director, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) said it would be an injustice against Nigerian women and girls if section 29 (4)(b) is kept.

According to her, the section creates loopholes within which Nigeria could continue to discriminate against half of the population.

"The senate should adjust the resolution and not cause confusion among Nigerians", she said.

In the same vein, Mrs Deola Abioge, a lawyer, called for the deletion of the section which deemed a girl under the age of 18 ripe for marriage.

"If a girl can get married under the age of 18, what the Senate is saying is that she also has a right to vote", she said.

Source: CRIN / Leadership Nigeria

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