A recent wedding ceremony in Kano has sparked nationwide debate and calls for legal reform as a video of a 60-year-old man marrying an 11-year-old girl went viral on social media.
The groom, identified as a local Kano Alhaji, has defended his actions, claiming the marriage was born out of love and mutual consent.
Child marriage remains a contentious issue in Nigeria, where regional disparities and cultural practices have long perpetuated the tradition.
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The country is divided between the predominantly Muslim north, where Sharia law often permits marriages involving minors, and the predominantly Christian south, which adheres to federal law setting the minimum age for marriage at 18.
The viral video has reignited discussions around child protection, consent, and the need for a unified legal framework in Nigeria.
Public outcry over the wedding has led to calls for authorities to investigate the matter and for the Nigerian government to take decisive action against child marriage.
Child rights activists have condemned the incident, highlighting the potential physical, psychological, and educational consequences faced by child brides.
Organizations such as UNICEF and Girls Not Brides continue to advocate for the Nigerian government to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18 and enforce it consistently across the country.
In response to the controversy, the Kano Alhaji has maintained that the marriage was a personal choice made by both parties.
However, critics argue that an 11-year-old cannot give informed consent and that this incident is indicative of the broader issue of child exploitation in Nigeria.
Some community members have defended the marriage, citing cultural and religious factors, while others argue that the case highlights the need for education and awareness about the rights of children, particularly young girls.
In light of the recent controversy, Nigerian lawmakers are urged to reevaluate existing child marriage laws and their enforcement.
Despite a 2003 federal law prohibiting child marriage, the practice persists in various regions, with Nigeria having one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.
This case has brought attention to the complex interplay between tradition, religion, and human rights in Nigeria.
As the debate continues, advocates for child protection hope that the incident will inspire necessary legal and societal changes to protect the well-being and futures of young girls across the nation.