THE NIGERIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Volume 17, No. 1, June 2019
Plucking the Flower Just too Early: Some Community Perspectives on Age at Marriage among Adolescent Girls in a Nigerian State
Department of Sociology, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria
In northern Nigeria, there are cultural and religious pressures on girls to marry early. Up to 43% of girls in Nigeria are married before 18, rising as high as 87% in the northwest. The study, using a mixed method approach, examines behaviours of community members towards adolescent girls’ time of marriage with perspectives from adolescent girls, faith leaders, and community members. The study found that the practice of early marriage exists in the areas studied: 35% of survey respondents had one or more daughters married before the age of 18, although most community members believed that a girl should be married when she is “mature”. Only 9.6% of survey respondents noted that they would never marry off an underage daughter. As major stakeholders in multi-component interventions, the study identifies the crucial roles of faith leaders in efforts to reduce the practice of early marriage in northern Nigeria.
Keywords: Early marriage, faith leaders, northern Nigeria