FIDA reveals that constitution technically approved child marriage
Mrs Folake Ajayi, Chairperson Oyo State Chapter of the Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA), has urged collaboration of all stakeholders in protecting the rights of the girl-child.
Ajayi in an interview on Wednesday in Ibadan said that although some states had domesticated the Child Rights Act, 2003, many girls still faced early marriage, genital mutilation and rape, among other challenges.
“It is depressing that Section 29(4) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria technically approved child marriage.
“This is by its provision that any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.
“Child betrothal and marriage occur when a girl-child is betrothed and married off,’’ she noted.
Ajayi said that Sections 23 and 24 of the Oyo State Child Rights Law, 2006, prohibited child marriage and betrothal.
“Under the Child Rights Law, a child is said to be a person under the age of 1
“Section 23 of the same law says a person under the age of 18 is incapable of contracting a valid marriage.
“If such a marriage does take place, it should be declared null and void and of no effect.
“There should be full enforcement of the law because a law that is not enforced, in my own opinion, is a toothless bulldog,’’ she said.
According to the FIDA chairperson, child rights can be divided into survival, protection, development s and participation rights.
She said that the rights of the girl-child in Nigeria were at a higher risk of being breached.
Ajayi noted that female genital mutilation (female circumcision) was still rampant.
“I define it as the gross violation of a female’s body and the wicked mutilation of her genital.
“ It is a calculated attempt to suppress and oppress the woman in a girl.
“Section 26 of Oyo State Child Rights Law prohibits mutilation of the female genital.
“Any one guilty of this offence is liable on conviction to a fine of N20, 000 or imprisonment for a term of two years.