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This study investigated the causes of early marriage as well as the consequences of the practice in Kastina State with a focus on Daura. Specifically the study sought to establish the causes of early marriage and describe its effects on girls in the Sub- County. The study was guided by the radical feminist theory. Radical feminist beliefs are based on the idea that the main causes of women’s oppression originates from social roles and institutional structures that are constructed from male supremacy and patriarchy. Data was collected through survey method, focus group discussions, key informant interviews and secondary sources. The studied sample comprised of 100 married women aged 15 to 25 years who were married before the age of 18. The study revealed that early marriage in Daura is rampant. The findings showed that the tradition of marrying girls at an early age to protect them from engaging in improper behaviour is the leading cause of early marriage in the Sub-County. Other causes of early marriage as revealed by the study are poverty, religious obligation and societal pressure. The findings further revealed that early marriage has negative effects on a girl’s health. The young girls face serious complications during childbirth and are more at risk of death during childbirth since their bodies are not fully developed. The findings also revealed that early marriage denies children of school age their right to education. Based on the findings, recommendations are made for advocating for dialogue at community level with local administration, women groups and religious leaders around the issue of early marriage and coming up with interventions. Such interventions should aim at addressing complex and negative socio- cultural norms and expanding access to primary, secondary school and tertiary education. This can be achieved by offering financial incentives for disadvantaged girls to stay in school, More importantly, further studies on early marriage and its consequences need to be conducted all over the country and especially at the coast where the practice is common, to document the magnitude of the problem.




1.1                      Introduction

Early marriage is described as the marriage or union between two individuals where one or both persons are younger than 18 years old (ICRW, 2005; McIntyre, 2006). It is also known as child marriage. The practice applies to both boys and girls but young girls have been the major victims (UNICEF, 2005). In most cases, it takes place without the permission of both the bride and the bridegroom. A child’s childhood is cut short and his or her fundamental rights are compromised as well when a marriage partner is imposed on her/him. The right to free and full consent to a marriage is acknowledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR further recognizes that when one of the parties involved is not mature enough to make a choice about a spouse then the consent cannot be free and full (Ozier, 2015).

According to UNICEF (2001), the practice of early marriage is mainly widespread in Sub- Saharan Africa and South Asia. Nonetheless marriage at or soon after puberty is common in the some parts of Northern Africa, Middle East and other parts of Asia especially among traditional communities (Mamad & Foubert, 2018). Marriages before puberty are not uncommon in certain parts of West and East Africa and South Asia while in Latin America and parts of Eastern Europe girls are married off between the age of 16 and 18 (Bantebya, Kyoheirwe, & Watson, 2015).

UNICEF (2015) affirms that the total prevalence of child marriage in Africa is higher compared to the universal average. By the year 2050, Africa will have the highest number and share of child marriage worldwide if the existing trends go on. Although child marriage is prevalent across Africa, prevalence is greatest in West and Central Africa where it is most likely that amongst ten women aged 20 to 24; four were married before they were 18 years old (Mangeli, Rayyani, & Cheraghi, 2018).

Early marriage is still widespread in Nigeria particularly in the rural areas regardless of the existence of a law banning the tradition. In Nigeria 4% of girls are married by 15 years while 23% of girls are married before they attain 18 years (UNICEF, 2017). Child marriage rates differ across the country; North Eastern and Coast regions have the highest prevalence rates, whereas Nairobi and the Central region have the lowest rates. Studies illustrate that Kilifi has the highest prevalence of early marriages with 47.4%, Homa Bay at 38%, Kwale at 37.9%, Bondo at 29.5% and Tharaka at 25% (Plan International, 2011:1).

Marriage before the girl attains the age of 18 is a major infringement of a girl’s rights. Among the factors that lead to early marriage are poverty, religion, ‘protection’ of the girl child, family honour, social norms, an inadequate legislative framework and the state of a country’s civil registration system (Ahmed, Khan, Khan, & Noushad, 2014). Studies by Plan International have revealed that in most rural areas in Nigeria girls are often viewed as an economic burden or valued as capital in terms of goods, livestock and money when a man asks for her hand in marriage (Hardiani & Junaidi, 2018). A combination of cultural, traditional and religious arguments is often put forward to validate such economic transactions.

As per UNICEF (2018), child marriage often affects a girl’s development negatively. It results to early pregnancy and social isolation, cutting short a girl’s education, restricting her employment opportunities and career progression and putting her at a higher risk of experiencing domestic violence. Furthermore, early marriage is related with higher total fertility rates (Raj et al., 2009; KNBS and ICF Macro, 2010). Besides posing challenges to society as a whole, young women’s fertility can have lifetime and potentially distressing effects on young women, as well as their children. High fertility rates among women tend to lead to child poverty and high fertility in the next generation, feeding an insidious cycle of poverty across generations (Ridzuan et al., 2018).

Early marriage is deeply embedded in tradition, gender disparity and poverty. It is a complex matter that has continued to exist for many years. According to UNFPA, factors that contribute to early marriage are poverty and economic survival tactic; protecting family honour; tradition and culture; gender disparity; resolving disagreements; and insecurity especially during war (Stark, 2018). It often occurs among girls who are poor, uneducated and residing in rural areas. It is largely due to the unequal power relations between man and women in most African countries because of cultural and social traditions, beliefs and attitudes due to patriarchy (Singh & Vennam, 2016). As a result, girls and women most of the times occupy a subordinate status in society (ICRW, 2007).

Marriage is considered as a time of happiness and festivities all over the world. However, early marriage practices do not give any reason for joy. Once married, young girls are expected to assume new roles, the girls are usually not ready psychologically or physically for such roles (UNICEF, 2001). As indicated by UNICEF (2001:7), early marriage is an intolerable infringement of human rights and denies girls opportunity to acquire education, affects health of the girls thus disrupting their achievements in life. Furthermore, early marriage has several consequences not only on the well-being of families, but also for the entire society (Singh & Vennam, 2016). There is a price to pay at each level, from the individual family to the entire nation all together when girls are not educated and are unprepared for their responsibilities as wives and mothers in the society (Birchall, 2018).

Early marriage certainly denies children who are supposed to be in school, their right to education that is essential for their individual development, their preparation for parenthood, and their valuable involvement in the wellbeing of their households and society as a whole in the future (Bhnji, 2014). Married girls who would like to go on with their education may not be allowed to do so, both legally and practically. Girls are compelled to drop out of school when a good marriage proposal comes up in Bangladesh. According to UNICEF (2001), many parents hold the belief that it is not worthy to educate the girl child since she will end up getting married and working at the in-laws home. They view spending on a girl’s education as wastage of resources. Therefore the cost associated with education is what causes most parents to stop their school age children from going to school (Birchall, 2018).

Commonly, early marriage can have devastating consequences on a girl’s health. Young married girls can face serious problems such as obstetric complications during delivery, unwanted pregnancies and even malnutrition in their children. Moreover early marriage results to increased risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV and AIDS among young girls. This is because child brides are not in the position to negotiate safer sex practices effectively; hence, they are at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as HIV, and early pregnancy as well (UNICEF 2014).

In addition, early marriage has immense psychological effects on the young girls. Research done in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh on child marriage reveal that in marriage girls go through more problems as compared to boys; withdrawal from school, disruption of their socialization process and physiological as well as emotional harm owing to numerous pregnancies just to mention a few ( Singh & Samara, 1996). Becoming a wife and a mother tends to be a big responsibility for the girls because in most cases they are still young and unprepared to take up such roles. This seems like a heavy burden on them and results to serious effects on their psychological wellbeing and how they view themselves and their relationships with others (Ogori, Shitu, & R, 2013). These girls are still young and not mature enough to be able to deal with maternal issues, marriage problems or in laws issues, this adds on the psychological and emotional trauma in child brides. The study therefore, investigated the causes of early girl marriages as well as the consequences of the practice in Kastina State with a focus on Daura.

1.2   Problem Statement

 The early marriages pose a challenge to the social economic development of the country through its impact on the education, domestic violence and risk of sexually transmitted diseases. However, despite these consequences of early marriages and the enactment of the marriage act in 2014 setting legal age of marriage in Nigeria at 18 years irrespective of religious or cultural affiliations of a community, early marriage is still prevalent in some communities. This study seeks to examine the causes and effects of early marriage in Daura. This will also be with a view of filling the prevalent literature gaps. For example studies by Nyamongo (2000), Undie (2011), Wabuti (2014) and Wodon (2015). Furthermore, studies by UNICEF (2005) and UNFPA (2012) amongst others have looked at early marriage within the context of rural areas. This study however seeks to examine the experiences of young girls with early marriage in urban and cosmopolitan settings such as Daura. The study was guided by the following research question:

  1. What are the causes of early marriage among girls in Daura of Kastina State?
  2. What are the effects of early marriages on girls in Daura?


1.3                      Study Objectives

1.3.1                Overall Objective


  1. To assess the causes and effects of early marriages among girls in

1.3.2                Specific Objectives

  1. To establish the causes of early marriage among girls in Daura.
  2. To describe the effect of early marriages on girls in

1.4   Assumption of the study

  1. Tradition is a leading cause of early marriage among girls in Daura.
  2. Early marriages among girls in Daura have negative effects on their reproductive

1.5   Justification of the Study

Regardless of the efforts put forward by many developing countries to oppose and even ban the practice, early marriage still prevails in many nations. The matter of early marriage is profoundly deep-rooted in the patriarchal cultures, which see girls as vulnerable and marriage as most preferred destination. It is a widespread phenomenon at the Coast and must be given great attention on behalf of the girl child and for sustainable development.

The outcome of the study not only increases the knowledge on the drivers of the practice but also assist the child rights agencies to have an evidenced based approach to their programming. In addition, the Kastina State assembly and the children department can use the findings to come up with local policies that can resonate well with the locals. The National government can also use the findings for their adolescent policies and programmes. Non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders can also benefit from the outcome of the study by creating ground for them to come up with interventions to curb early marriage. Moreover, the findings can be used by policy makers while formulating policies to ensure that the policies address the crisis of early marriage so as to prevent this violation of girls’ right and hopefully help bring down child marriage rates.

The outcome can also be used in creating appropriate awareness among the girls themselves and their parents on the problems associated with early child marriages and how the practice retards development at personal, familial and societal levels. In addition, the outcome will enable religious leaders as well as community leaders to understand broadly the negative results traditions such as early marriage bring about on the community as a whole. Finally, the findings of the study can contribute more information on the issue of early marriage and suggest possible culturally compatible ways of addressing the problem.

1.6   Scope and Limitations of the Study

 The study was conducted in Daura of Kastina State. It focused on the causes and effects related to early girl marriages. The respondents were limited to the natives of the Coast and had to ensure that the migrant labourers who may not be cultural practitioners of early girl marriages were not included. Another limitation has to do with language. Most of the informants were fluent in Swahili and lack adequate knowledge of English. Therefore, questions had to be translated from English to Swahili and the responses from Swahili to English. Due to sensitivity of the topic, it led to respondents not opening up, however, they were assured of their anonymity and confidentiality.



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