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Forced marriage is a marriage in which one or more of the parties is married without their consent or against their will. The United Nations views forced marriage as a form of human rights abuse, since it violates the principle of the freedom and autonomy of individuals. It can constitute both child abuse and sexual abuse. The United Nations considers it a form of trafficking, sexual slavery, and exploitation. Some, however, still see it as a private, personal, domestic, family, religious, or cultural issue. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that a person's right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage is central to his/her life and dignity, and his/her equality as a human being. Also, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16 (2) says, "Marriage should be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.” 

A marriage is a forced marriage when you were not consulted or aware that you were getting married; your family or extended family used emotional pressure, sexual violence and/or physical violence to make you agree to a marriage or you have been forced to stay in confinement and have not been allowed to discuss your marriage with anyone. Physical pressure to marry refers to threats, force and physical violence while emotional or psychological pressure can be likened to a situation where you are made to feel like you are bringing shame on your family because you are not married.

There are so many reasons forced marriages occur. They range from controlling unwanted behaviour and sexuality (including perceived promiscuity, or being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender) - particularly the behaviour and sexuality of women; protecting 'family honour'; responding to peer group or family pressure; attempting to strengthen family links; ensuring land, property and wealth remain within the family; protecting perceived cultural ideals; protecting perceived religious ideals (which are misguided); preventing 'unsuitable' relationships, e.g. outside the ethnic, cultural, religious or caste group; assisting claims for residence and citizenship to fulfilling long-standing family commitments. Plus, forced marriage is different from arranged marriage. 

An arranged marriage is where both parties presumably consent to the assistance of their parents or a third party such as a matchmaker in finding and choosing a spouse. Arranged marriage is consensual. Forced marriage is a form of domestic violence. It is a way of controlling men and women. It discounts any right of choice for individual/individuals in choosing a partner and, in cases where the individual is below 18 years old, is a form of child abuse. The latter leads us to child marriage. 

Girls not Brides defines child marriage as any formal marriage or informal union where one or both of the parties are under 18 years of age. That is, it's a forced marriage because the partners who are below 18 can not give informed consent. Hence, it leads to all forms of gender-based violence. 

Child marriage is ignited by gender inequality, poverty, cultures and traditions, and insecurity. It happens across the Europe, America, Africa and Asian continents. According to UNICEF, Africa has the highest incidence rates of child marriage, with over 70% of girls marrying under the age of eighteen in three nations. Girls in West and Central Africa have the highest risk of marrying in childhood. In parts of Ethiopia and Nigeria, many girls are married before the age of 15, some as young as 7. In parts of Mali, 39% of girls are married before the age of 15. In Niger and Chad, over 70% of girls are married before the age of 18.

As of 2006, 15–20% of school dropouts in Nigeria were the result of child marriage. In 2013, Nigeria attempted to change Section 29, subsection 4 of its laws and thereby prohibit child marriages. Christianity and Islam are each practised by roughly half of its population, and the country continues with personal laws from its British colonial era laws, where child marriages are forbidden for its Christians and allowed for its Muslims. The UN states that although the number of child marriages has declined on a worldwide scale, the problem remains most severe in Africa, despite the fact that Ethiopia cut child marriage rates by a third.

The question is, why does child marriage still occur in some parts of Nigeria? Is it stated in the Sharia law or the Holy book, the Quran? We'd look at it in our next post. Thanks for following. 

Gender-based Violence
Positive Masculinity
Human Rights
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