The Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Perry Calderwood, has launched a media campaign against early and forced child marriages in developing countries including Nigeria.
Calderwood noted that over 15 million children globally are forced into early marriage each year, leading to an unbroken circle of illiteracy and poverty.
He therefore solicited the support of the public to end the trend ahead of a global photo exhibition entitled “Too Young To Wed”.
Child marriages are prevalent in northern Nigeria, mostly attached to religious belief. However, it is saddening that most of the educated northerners would never give out their underage daughter out in marriage. But some of them still indulge in marrying underage girls.
Aljazeera in 2010 reported that Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima paid $100,000 as dowry for a 13-year-old Egyptian girl.
“The Prophet Mohammed married at the age of nine, therefore any Muslim who marries a girl of nine years and above, is following the teachings of the Prophet,” Yerima told Al Jazeera at the time.
“If there’s anybody who’ll tell me that what you did contradicts Islam, I ‘ll submit – and I’ll do whatever they ask me to do.”
A girl is also standing trial for murder of her 35-year-old husband, who she was allegedly forced to marry at 14. Wasila Tasi’u had allegedly slipped rat poison into a rice dish that was eaten by her husband and some of his friends two weeks after their wedding.
Calderwood’s campaign is expected to shed more light on the travails of young girls in developing countries, who are given out in marriage early.