New Nigeria Law Says Men Can Marry Baby Girls

imageA new law in Nigeria has people up in arms and wondering what kind of Senator in their right mind would vote for such a thing. Citizens everywhere are protesting an amendment to Section 29 (4b) of the 1999 Constitution regarding the age at which women are allowed to be married. The amendment changes the legal age of marriage to zero, meaning that even a newborn baby can be married to a full grown man under Nigerian law.

Section 29 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states: “Any citizen of Nigeria of full age who wishes to renounce his Nigerian citizenship shall make a declaration in the prescribed manner for the renunciation.”

Sub-section (4a) states: “Full age means the age of 18 years and above”, while (4b) says: “Any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.”

The new amendment says that a married underage girl is now deemed to be a full adult in the country. This has led to widespread protest world-wide from those who are concerned about the way the law promotes child abuse. Petitions are circulating and even those who’ve moved away from Nigeria are using social media as a way to express their outrage.

What is even more interesting is that the same country that will let women get married at any age doesn’t allow those under 18 to vote in elections. The Gender and Constitution Reform Network (GECORN), a coalition of women’s rights organisations across Nigeria, is fighting with the government over the new resolution.

Lagos-based pastor and motivational speaker, Sam Adeyemi, tweeted: “If Islam permits something that the rest of the country and many parts of the world feel is detestable, then, it’s a serious issue. We cannot take away from a Muslim the right to practise his or her religion.”

A former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, said: “We kid ourselves to think that we can catch up and compete with the rest of the world, when the Girl Child is constrained.

“I got married at 24 after my first post-graduate education. Some think 24 is early but then, I was ready to make sound decisions.”

The law being passed was a surprise to those who observe the Nigerian Senate. Senators first opposed the law and suddenly changed their position. Given the large amount of corruption in Nigerian politics, experts are wondering if the Senators were bribed to change their votes.