Nigeria's Child Protection Law Allows Underage Marriage

It is almost as if the law isn’t in place.

Isn’t the essence of a Child Protection Law to protect a child? why then should there be a clause that still allows underage marriage as if the act itself is not child abuse.

In 2003, the Katsina State Assembly first presented its child rights act which was renamed in December 2020. It became Katsina State Child Protection Bill 2020 and its purpose was to protect children under the age of 18 and shield them from abuse.

This law was eventually signed in on the 29th of December 2020 by the House of Assembly after it was accented to by the Governor and after a lot of pressure and awareness from child rights organizations and civil societies.

With this, one would think that it is the end of child abuse and underage marriage in the state, only to find out that the law excluded muslim children in the case of marriage.

It means that as a muslim girl-child in Katsina, there are no laws to protect you from getting married before you are 18 and you can be married off as soon as your parents deem it fit.

I believe that the Government have somehow manage to exclude the major victims of the underage marriage in the state as the underage muslim girls can still be married off without any form of restriction or rights to protect them.

The law also gave the Sharia law supremacy over the child protection law which kinda forfeits the essence of the law in the first place as the sharia law which governs muslims in the North and operates by the laws of Islam might continue to favor underage marriage as it has always been done in the North.

Although, this law promises to protect underage children against rape, labour and marriages, the law is also subjected to the sharia law and there might be a little or no change to the protection of underage children in the North.

What reservations do you have concerning this law?

Despite the several clauses that can still allow the practice of child marriage, do you think that there is a chance for this law can bring a stop this act?