Experts Say Female Genital Mutilation/Child Marriage Statistics is Worrisome

Experts Say Female Genital Mutilation/Child Marriage Statistics is Worrisome
Participants at a United Nations women conference in Lagos, South-west Nigeria have said that the sheer number of child marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM) across African communities is reaching alarming levels. The conference which opened in Lagos, Tuesday, is aimed as mobilizing action and engaging traditional rulers in Africa towards ending child marriage and female genital mutilation on the continent.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the Africa Union goodwill ambassador for early child marriage (ECM), while presenting a multi-country analytical study of legislation, policies, interventions and cultural practices on child marriage, said the figures do not look good for Africa.

According to the UN ambassador, on a national average, Niger has 76 percent of girls married by 18, Chad 72 percent, the Central Africa Republic 68 percent, Burkina Faso 52 percent, and Nigeria 44 percent. She, however, noted that although Nigeria is ranked at the bottom, in terms of actual number of girls, the country has more incidences of child marriage than the others.

Jumai Mohammed, who represented the Minister for Women Affairs, Aisha Abubakar, said child marriage was very common in Kano State.

She said, “Child marriage is prevalent in the north with an estimated 65 percent of girls below 18 already married. Although there are no reliable data, about 50 million will be married if there are no interventions.On the implication of such early marriages, 65 percent of obstetrics fistula occurs in girls below 18 largely due to early childbirth.”

Delivering the keynote address, Haliru Yahaya, the Emir of Shongai, said leaders who fail to do anything against FGM and child marriage are also perpetrators. Mr Yahaya said a way to tackle early marriage is to ensure girls are compulsorily kept in school till they finish their secondary education.

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