Nigeria Struggles to Protect Child Brides

Underage marriage outlawed, but Muslim leaders support it
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2008 10:44 AM CST
Nigeria Struggles to Protect Child Brides
Locals flee after fighting broke out in Kano, Nigeria, April 18, 2007.   (AP Photo/George Osodi)

In northern Nigeria, almost half the girls are married by age 15, and a law outlawing child marriage faces serious resistance from Muslim leaders, the Times of London reports. "We have no choice," says one teen who was brutally raped by her husband. As a result, fistula—a hole torn between the vagina and bladder or rectum during childbirth—and maternal death are common.

Young girls are the most frequent sufferers. Many are incontinent and sent away from their homes. "The woman ends up crippled for life: medically, socially, mentally, and emotionally," says a doctor who repairs the condition. Half of the country's states have adopted a 2003 law banning marriage under age 18, but the Muslim north resists. "In the Koran there is no specific age of marriage," says a cleric.
(Read more Nigeria stories.)

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