ISSUES OF MARRIAGE AND CHALLENGES OF YOUNG GIRLS IN AGUATA LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF ANAMBRA STATE
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
United Nations International Children’s Fund [UNICEF] (2005), describes early marriage as both formal marriage and informal unions in which a girl lives with a partner as if married before the age of 18. It can also be defined as any marriage carried out below the age of 18 years; before the girl is physically, physiologically, and psychologically ready for the responsibilities of marriage and child bearing. In most cases, it is always a young girl married to a matured man. Sometimes, the man can be twice her age. Child marriage is seen as a fundamental violation of human rights (UNICEF, 2014). Child marriage also means increased health risks for young girls (Anthony, 2013; UNICEF, 2014). Several factors may lead to early marriage ranging from – cultural and social pressure, persecution, forced migration and slavery, financial challenges, religion (Aduradola, 2013); poverty and economic transactions, notions of morality and honour (Adebambo, 2010); parental desire to prevent sexual relations outside marriage and the fear of rape, a lack of educational or employment opportunities for young girls, and the traditional notions of the primary role of women and girls as wives and mothers (UNICEF, 2005).
Furthermore, Erulkar and Bello (2007), opined that the basis for acceptance of early marriages particularly in the northern parts of Nigeria is to preserve the value of virginity, to reduce promiscuity of the girl child, and other socio-cultural and religious norms. The objective of the study was to identify the extent of knowledge Enugu State indigenes have about the problems associated with early marriage. How to understand the widespread of early marriage in Africa? What are the reasons behind its perpetuation in Africa? How does it affect girls’ wellbeing and constitute a violation of their human rights? How does it undermine the development of societies? Those questions are posed today, when, despite national laws and international agreements forbidding early marriage, this phenomenon is still widespread in many developing countries with a high prevalence in Sub-Saharan Africa more particularly in Central and West Africa. This paper intends to analyze that issue by emphasizing on this region of Africa. According to UNICEF (2001), 40 per cent and 49 per cent of girls under 19 in Central and West Africa respectively are married compared to 27 per cent in East Africa and 20 percent in Northern and Southern Africa. Throughout the world, marriage is regarded as a moment of celebration and a milestone in adult life. Sadly, the practice of early marriage gives no such cause for celebration. All too often, the imposition of a marriage partner upon a child means that a girl or boy’s childhood is cut short and their fundamental rights are compromised (UNICEF, 2001 and Lefevre, Quiroga and Murply 2004). Young girls are robbed of their youth and required to take on roles for which they are not psychologically or physically prepared. Many have no choice about the timing of marriage or their partner. Some are coerced into marriage, while others are too young to make an informed decision. Premature marriage deprives them of the opportunity for personal development as well as their rights to full reproductive health and wellbeing, education, and participation in civic life.
Early marriage contributes to a series of negative consequences both for young girls and the society in which they live. It is a violation of human rights in general and of girl’s rights in particular. For both girls and boys, early marriage has profound physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impacts; cutting off educational and employment opportunities and chances of personal growth. In this paper more emphasis is given to girls as this is an issue that impacts upon girls in far larger numbers and with more intensity.
Besides having a negative impact on girls themselves, the practice of early marriage also has negative consequences on their children, families, and society as a whole. UNICEF (2000) argues that it is not only girls that pay for early marriage but also the society as a whole. Population pressure, health care costs and lost opportunities of human development are just a few of the growing burdens that society shoulders because of teenage pregnancies. Early marriage also undermines international efforts to fight against poverty in developing countries. Bunch (2005) makes it clear that the widespread practice of child marriage makes it increasingly difficult for families to escape poverty in the developing world, thereby undermining critical international efforts to fight poverty, HIV/AIDS and other development challenges, and making billions of dollars in development assistance less effective.
According to the Article of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and UNICEF, the terms child or early marriage are used interchangeably to describe a legal or accustomed union between two people, of whom one or both spouses is below the age of 18 years . Currently, one third of the women in Pakistan get married before the age of 18, while about 12 to 13 percent get married before their 15th birthday (Nadia, 2013). Child marriages are considered by many to be a way to protect young girls; rather early marriages leave them physically and socially vulnerable to gender inequality, illness, poverty, and violence . Apart from these consequences, young married girls are exposed to early frequent unplanned pregnancies and termination of pregnancy which results from depriving the women of the contraceptive methods increasing the likelihood of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. Most importantly, in its recent guidelines on preventing early pregnancy, The World Health Organization has included the prevention of child marriages as one of the six primary goals.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
This research work came about as a result of the issues and challenges that young girls face in marriage. There has been various research works on marriages of young girls but no research has been done on the issues and challenges this young girls face in marriage.
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The main aim of the research work is to determine the issues and challenges of young girls in Aguata Local Government area of Anambra State. Other specific objectives of the study include:
1. to examine the relationship between young girls and challenges in marriage.
2. to examine the effect of early marriage on young girls in Aguata Local government area of Anambra State.
3. To understand the issues and challenges of young girls in Aguata Local Government of Anambra State.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is the relationship between young girls and challenges in marriage?
2. What is the effect of early marriages on young girls in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State?
3. What are the issues of marriage and challenges of young girls in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State
1.5 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
1. H0:there are no significant issues of marriage and challenges of young girls.
2. H1:there are significant issues of marriage and challenges of young girls.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The study on the issues of marriage and challenges of young girls will assist the government of Anambra state to have a better understanding on the issues of marriage and challenges the young girls face especially in Aguata Local Government Area. It will also enlighten young girls and parents on the challenges of early marriage as well as help them make the right decisions as regards marriage.
1.7 SCOPE OF STUDY
This research work will cover the issues of marriage and challenges of young girls in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
2 Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
3 Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Marriage according to Haviland (2000) is: a relationship between one or more men (male or female) and one or more women (female or male) recognized by society as having a continuing claim to the right of sexual access to one another. Marriage is a transaction and resulting contract in which a woman and a man are recognized by society as having a continuing claim to the right of sexual access to one another, and in which the woman involved is eligible to bear children (Haviland 1996). Marriage is a union between a man and a woman such that the children born to the woman are recognized as legitimate offspring of both partners (RAI,1951).
Bertrand Russel says that “marriage differs, of course, from other sex relations by the fact that it is a legal institution. It is also in most communities a religious institution, but it is the legal aspect which is essential”. (Russell, 1959: 88).
The fundamental basis of marriage is defined as “a personal association between a man and a woman and a biological relationship for mating and reproduction. As a social, legal and religious institution, marriage has undergone any number of modifications and changes; nevertheless, its basic realities remain the same. The permanent, indissoluble, sacramental union of the orthodox differs strikingly from the free, easily served, and often not even officially registered marriages, let us say, of a modern Russian, and yet both of these marriages have certain underlying elements in common. In both instances, the couple seeks to make their union stable. They assume the freedom and privilege of a sexual relationship, and normally have as their ultimate aim the establishment of a family. Biologically, the object of marriage is not to legalize a sexual union, but rather to ensure the survival of the species and of the race. From this point of view, marriage is not merely a sexual relationship, but a parental association. It is the union of a male and a female for production and care of offspring and reproduction is, therefore, another fundamental object or purpose of marriage”. (Stone, 1939: 18).
Marriage as a physical as well as a moral union is recognized by society as the basis of a family. It may be a sacrament and in that way an indissoluble union for this life and hereafter, as in the case of a staunch Hindu or Roman Catholic, or a temporary civil contract for a fixed period as in the case of a Mutaa marriage among the Shia Muslims. But whether a sacrament or a civil contract, the relationship, above sexual satisfaction, is to join two members of opposite sexes for the procreation of legitimate children. In the words of H. M. Stone and Abraham Stone, “While particular marriages may, of course, be entered into for any number of other reasons as family pleasure, social conveniences, financial considerations and similar motives, basically the prime objects of marriage are companionship, sexual intimacy and procreation.” (Stone, 1939: 21).
Marriage is a unique relationship different from all others. An essential characteristic of marriage is the biological fact that a man and a woman can join together as male and female in a union that is orientated to the generation of new life. The union of marriage provides for the continuation of the human race and the development of human society. It is precisely the difference between man and woman that makes possible this unique communion of persons, the unique partnership of life and love which is marriage.
A challenge is something new and difficult which requires great effort and determination. Challenge is the perception that a task or situation exceeds one's comfort zone or capacities; thus the challenge will require a person to find "something extra".Challenge should ideally trigger positive emotions such as excitement and confidence as well as the trepidations of fear and doubt. A challenge is a request made to the holder of a competitive title for a match between champion and challenger, the winner of which will acquire or retain the title.