Justice Kazeem Alogba of the Lagos State High Court on Thursday called for intensified actions to end child marriage and secure a bright future for thousands of girls in the country.
Alogba said in Lagos that the high rate of child marriage in the country was becoming unbearable.
He said the judiciary, NGOs with biased for protecting child-brides and individuals should collaborate to end the social vice for the good of the society.
The UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016 Report stated that in Nigeria, 43 per cent of girls were married off before their 18th birthday while 17 per cent suffered the same fate before they turned 15.
It said that the prevalence of child marriage varied widely from one region to another, with figures as high as 76 per cent in the North West region and as low as 10 per cent in the South East.
Alogba described child marriage as a violation of the fundamental human rights’ of the victims that must end to achieve a fairer future for all.
“These children are married off too soon, endangering their personal development and wellbeing.
“Those children who were neglected when they should be nurtured on how to face future realities then are today’s mothers.
“A mother who never went through care can never be a good mother or give care today.
“We need to see what we – the judiciary, NGOs and individuals, can do to stop the trend so that we can have parents, especially mothers, that will give care to their children and the society in general, ” he said.
Alogba said that child-brides tend to face huge challenges as adults because when they were married off as children, they were not empowered; neither did they acquire any skills.
He noted that they were also deprived of their fundamental human rights to health, education and safety.
According to him, they are neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers.
“Child-brides are at greater risks of experiencing dangerous complications during pregnancy and childbirth, contracting some diseases and suffering domestic violence.
“With little access to educational and economic opportunities, they and their families are more likely to live in poverty.
“’When girls and women limit their own possibilities for growth; stability and transformation, it has negative impacts on the family, the community and the nation at large.
“So, the judiciary, NGOs and others need to collaborate to intensify enlightenment programmes as well as ensure proper enforcement of the Child Rights Act.
“ By so doing, we will be reducing the rate of child marriage in Nigeria, ” Alogba said.