Lagos, Nigeria, 17 July 2013 The Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF) is greatly concerned about the resolution by the Senate to alter section 29(a) of the Constitution which stipulates that a woman shall not be qualified for marriage until she attains 18 years of age.
ThisDay, one of Nigerian’s leading national newspapers June 17th, page 10, 2013 reported “while deleting the section from the draft Constitution yesterday, the Senate claimed that a woman is deemed to be of (full age) once she is married irrespective of the age she did so”. This decision of the senate in the ongoing constitutional review process will remove the age specification of women who can marry and would further deem a woman to be of “full age” once she is married, irrespective of the age she did so.
This action is a clear violation of Article 21(2) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which prohibits child marriage and betrothal as well as Article 6 (b) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa which provides that the minimum age of marriage for women is 18 years.
This act also violates Section 21 of the Child’s Rights Act of Nigeria which forbids the marriage of persons below 18 years and imposes a punishment of N500,000 or a 5 year jail term, or both; Article 18 (3) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the Conventions on the Rights of the Child and Article 27 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
The Nigerian Feminist Forum and its partners therefore call’s for the following:
(a) The National Assembly to reconsider their resolution to remove the age limitation;
(b) Calls on the African Commission to urge the Nigerian Government to fulfill their obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; and under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
(c) That the essence and true nature of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa is observed.
Let us all take part in this campaign to protect the right of the girl child to an education and to reach the age of maturity in a safe and healthy environment irrespective of which part of Nigeria she is birthed.
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For further details contact,
Nigerian Feminist Forum Secretariat,
16 Alhaji Bashorun Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.