Early Marriage Among Teenagers; Implication For A Sustainable Future

Project and Seminar Material for Sociology

Early Marriage Among Teenagers; Implication For A Sustainable Future


This study investigated the implications of the early marriage practices among teenage girls in Otta, Ogun state. Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to investigate the magnitude of early marriages, to establish its implications on girls’ education, and to identify strategies used to prevent early marriages in Otta. The study was conducted in Otta. Data were collected from school teachers and mothers. The design used was cross-section survey design, which collected both qualitative and quantitative data. A sample for this study was drawn from four groups of the population; namely mothers, Ward Education Coordinators, Primary School teachers and pupils. Data were collected from a sample of 246 respondents

Data were collected using the questionnaire, interview, focus group discussions and documentary review methods. Data collected were analysed by using Special Package for Social Science (SPSS) and presented in frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations while qualitative data were subjected to content analysis. The findings revealed that an early marriage in Otta is rampant. The finding further revealed that early marriages in Otta are caused by many factors one of them is low level of education among the community members. School dropout was reported to be the leading implication of early marriages in the area of study. The study also reported that there are efforts made to combat early in the area despite of a number of challenges. Different stakeholders have to work together in making sure that this practice is ended. The study concludes that early marriage is a real problem in Otta. Further studies were recommended to deal with the challenges that hinder the efforts against early marriage practices in the area.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Many development workers around the world recognized early marriage as an international issue which is mostly common in Africa, Asia and Latin America, however. Millions of young people suffer its negative consequence around the world as it diverts them from opportunities of personal growth and development thus it is a developmental challenge and a barrier to young girls as they drop-out from schools when they get married, this phenomena is very common in rural areas and poor house hold families in Africa, it impacts negatively not only on young girls but society as a whole and wellbeing of future generation Bayisenge (2012).

Pathfinder international report (2006) indicates that early marriage continue to exist in Asia, Africa, Latin America and middle east, parents as head of families continue to make choices for girls and boys with little or no involvement and consultation with them because of economic, cultural and attitudinal related factors. Parents in most cases consider marriage of their young children as family building strategy and protection from hurtful practices outside of marriage but few numbers of them give consideration the importance of educational attainment so as young generation get skills required for them to secure and sustain wellbeing and quality of life.

Early marriage refers to any marriage of a child younger than 18 years old. This robs the girls of their youth as they are required to take up roles for which they are not psychologically and physically prepared. Many have no choice about timing of marriage with their partner. Some are coerced into marriage, while others are too young to make an informed decision. Premature marriage deprives them of the opportunity for personal development as well as their rights to full reproductive health (RH), and well-being, education and participation in civic life (Saxena, 1999:7). Despite its disadvantages, however, early marriage is common occurrence in many parts of the world. Overall, 20-50 per cent of women in developing countries are married by age 18, with the highest percentages in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (Singh and Samara, 1996:8). Virtually everywhere, poor women in rural areas tend to marry younger than those in urban areas, and educational levels also play a critical role (UN, 2010:5).

However, in the United States of America, 2.1 per cent of all girls in the 15-17 age group were in early marriage, while, 7.6 per cent of all girls aged 15-19 were in an informal union (UN, 2010:9). Early marriage exists in some parts of Europe, for example, in the United Kingdom where 4.1 per cent of all girls in the 15-19 age group were cohabiting (living in an informal union), while 8.9 per cent of all girls in that age group admitted to have been in a cohabitation relation before the age of 18. Over 4 per cent of all underage girls in the UK were teenage mothers (Sharon and Lewis, 2005:3).

In rural areas and northern Nigeria, early marriage is high among girls compared to males. Forty-three per cent of girls are married before they they are 18 years compared to boys at 11.6 per cent. This proportion is higher than the national prevalence rate which stands at 34 per cent for females and 1.4 per cent for males (Plan International, 2011:1). Different reasons have been given for going into early marriage. Poor families may regard a young girl as an economic burden and her marriage as a necessary survival strategy for her family. Her marriage relieves the family financially and socially (ICRW, 2007:98). In some cases, parents willingly marry off their young girls to receive payment of bride wealth in order to increase the family income. Bride wealth is a cultural phenomenon practiced in Africa and other parts of the world and it encourages parents to marry their daughters early (UNICEF, 2001: 97). Culturally, the boy child’s education is more valued and usually more preference is accorded the boy-child than the girl-child. Educating the girl child is seen as a wasted investment since she will be married elsewhere.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The practice of early marriage mainly arises due to poverty, civil strife and low level of development. Some families believe that it limits and discourages promiscuity. Early marriage discriminates against the girl child’s right, limits her freedom to make decisions, isolates her from her peers, increases her risk of intimate sexual violence and sexually transmitted infections including HIV infection, predisposes her to complications of child birth such as obstructed labor and obstetric fistulae. Maternal mortality in pregnancy is four times higher among girls below the age of 16 years and their new born death rate is 50% higher compared to women who become pregnant after the age of 20 years. Early marriage also causes the girl child to discontinue or interrupt her education. Her children are also less likely to grow up healthy and go to school, thus continuing and worsening the cycle of poverty for generations to come.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to find out the implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nigeria.

Specifically the study intends to:

  1. Find out the causes of early marriage in Nigeria
  2. Analyze the implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nigeria
  3. Proffer solution to the problem of early marriage among teenage girls in Nigeria

1.4 Research Question

  1. What is the causes of early marriage in Nigeria?
  2. Is there any implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nigeria?
  3. What is the solution to the problem of early marriage among teenage girls in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  • Ho: there is no implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nigeria
  • Hi: there is implication of early marriage on sustainable future of teenage girls in Nigeria

1.6 Significance of the Study

Early marriage of the girl-child has been shown to be common in some Nigerian communities. It is associated with school dropout and poor quality of life for these young mothers and their families. There is limited information on early marriage and its effect on the girl-child most especially in northern Nigeria. This study will therefore expose the public to the burden of early marriage and its effects on the girl-child in Nigeria. This information should allow for intervention measures to be formulated and also formulation of a policy to address the problem. The study will also expose other gaps that exist within the field and prompt more investigations by other scholars. Finally, the study contributes to the literature on early marriage in Nigeria

1.7 Scope of the Study

This research on early marriage among teenagers, implication for sustainable future will be carried out in Otta, Ogun state i.e. Ado-Odo LGA in Ogun State, Nigeria.

1.8 Delimitation of the Study

Finance for the general research work will be a challenge during the course of study. Correspondents also might not be able to complete or willing to submit the questionnaires given to them.

However, it is believed that these constraints will be worked on by making the best use of the available materials and spending more than the necessary time in the research work. Therefore, it is strongly believed that despite these constraint, its effect on this research report will be minimal, thus, making the objective and significance of the study achievable.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Early Marriage:

Child marriage is a formal marriage or informal union entered into by an individual before reaching a certain age, specified by several global organizations such as UNICEF as minors under the age of 18.


A teenager, or teen, is a person who falls within the ages of thirteen-nineteen years old


Sustainability is the process of maintaining change in a balanced fashion, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development


A prospect of success or happiness.

1.10 Organization of the Study

This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one has presented the problem and its context while chapter two presents the review of related literatures, its main concern is to identify the knowledge gap. Chapter three explains the research methodology, chapter four deals with data presentation, analysis and discussion and chapter five presents the summary, conclusion and recommendation of the study

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of the Study

This study examined the implications of early marriage on girls’ education in Otta, western region of Nigeria. Alongside educational implications, girls who married early are more likely to experience violence, abuse and forced sexual relations. Child marriages jeopardize girls’ rights, such as the right to education, because new brides are usually forced to drop out of school to bear children and to provide household labour. In addition, married girls have few social connections, restricted mobility, limited control over resources and little or no power in their new households and are thus especially vulnerable to domestic violence. The underlying factors that contribute to child marriages are complex and interrelated. They vary within and between countries depending on individual circumstances and social contexts.

Throughout the world, marriage is regarded as a moment of celebration and a milestone in adult life. Sadly, the practice of early marriages gives no such cause for celebration.

Literature shows that there is a paucity of studies that have systematically assessed the implications of early marriages specifically on girl’s education. Therefore, this study had a unique opportunity to investigate the phenomenon in Otta,. This study aimed at investigating the magnitude of early marriages, establishing its implications on girls’ education, and identifying strategies set against early marriages in Otta.

The study employed a cross-section survey design in which both qualitative and quantitative approaches were employed to collect data. The rationale for selecting Otta was that it is among the Districts in Coastal Region with high school dropout cases among girls which are caused by early marriages. The other reason for selecting Otta is because the tribes found in otta are among the ethnic groups in Nigeria where initiation practices for young girls and boys is still strong. This practice forces girls to marry at an early age, consequently affecting their educational progress.

The target population of the present study included; primary school teachers, ward education coordinators and mothers, since these groups have a great role and involvement in the welfare of children and their education proprietress. Primary school girls were also involved in order to confirm some of the information collected from the primary school teachers and education officers. Both purposive and random sampling methods were used to recruit schools as well as respondents. Also, the study involved both secondary and primary sources of data. For primary data, questionnaires, interviews, focus group discussions techniques were employed. Qualitative data was subjected to content analysis, while data from questionnaires were coded into specific categories, and thus statistical analysis of events and simple statistics such as frequencies and percentages was employed to summarize the data.

5.2 Summary of the Findings

5.2.1 Magnitude of early marriages among primary school girls in Otta

The findings showed that the practice of early marriage existed in the area as 73.7% of the studied teachers affirmed it. The DEO and students who participated in this study also affirmed that early marriages contributed to girls dropping outs of school in the area.

The findings further revealed that early marriages in Otta were attributed to many factors including; low level of education as the leading cause. This was reported by 83.5% of teachers who were studied. This was followed by 50% who reported that marrying girls reduced family burden. Safeguarding girls’ virginity and extending family ties were least rated factors, 7.4% and 9% respectively. The interviewed girls attributed it to hard life situations that they were tempted to engage in early marriages in order to minimize their life hardship. Another factor related to inability to cope with studies, as some girls decided to relinquish school and engage in early marriage practices just because they saw themselves not succeeding in the learning process.

Another highly rated factor was parents’ not valuing education (78.2%), regardless of various literatures documenting education as one of the effective tools for ending early marriages. On the other end, adherence to religious beliefs was ranked lowest, which implies that its contribution to early marriage practices was very minimal.

5.2.2 The implications of early marriages on education for girls in Otta

Early marriages can have harmful consequences for children including the denial of education. It was found from the study that school drop out was the leading implication of early marriages in the area of study (96.8%).

Findings from students FGDs revealed a number of educational implications as a result of early marriage practices; ranging from the victims being illiterate, increased level of poverty in the community and lack of different skills.

The interviewed education officers also agreed that early marriage practices had detrimental implications on girls’ education and in their lives in general.

5.2.3 Strategies for preventing early marriages in Otta

At the district level, the DEO reported that there were efforts made to combat early marriage practices. One of the efforts was to insist school committees to sensitize the society on the implications of early marriage. All ward education coordinators also commented in the same direction that knowledge on the implications of early marriage is disseminated to the community through various ways.

Several challenges that hindered efforts to prevent early marriage practices were identified in the study area. The community in the study area lacks enough knowledge on the impact of early marriages to girls. This was reported by many surveyed teachers as the leading factor hindering efforts against early marriage practices.

Most of the interviewed respondents reported poor cooperation between parents and education stakeholders such as teachers was another factor that hindered efforts against early marriage practices in the area.

The most recommended strategies for prevention of early marriage practices included; enforcement of laws which discourage early marriages, raising awareness on the implications of early marriages through media, and mobilizing as well as educating the community on the impact of early marriages to girls. The least recommended way was the use of family planning methods while educating and empowering girls was moderately reported.

5.3 Conclusion

This study concludes that the practice of early marriages is a real problem in Otta. Parents have been found to play a key role in the practice. This is due to the fact that most parents lack understanding of the importance of formal education for their children. Among other implications, early marriage practices to younger girls have led to their denial of educational rights. There is a high need for raising awareness to community members on the importance of education to girls so as to discourage early marriage prevalence. In view of the above, it is important that different stakeholders should work together in making sure that this practice is ended.

5.4 Recommendations

5.4.1 Recommendations for action

Based on the findings from this study, the researcher recommends the following;

  1. The law-enforcers in the study area, and the nation at large, should work on the by laws that prohibit early marriages.
  2. Government should make education free and compulsory at the primary and secondary levels as a way of discouraging early marriage.
  3. Education planners should include sex education in the school curriculum forproper orientation of the girl-child. The current curriculum was found to be too light to make students adequately understand sexuality.
  4. Local NGOs with an intermediary role at national and local levels must do more to create a sustainable platform for local groups to tell their stories, leapfrog into the global arena, access funding, expand their activities and shape the current and post 2015 agenda on how girls’ education can end child marriages.
5.4.2 Recommendations for further studies

On the basis of the findings of this study, the phenomenon of early marriages is still a very big problem affecting girls’ education in Nigeria. Moreover information regarding national prevalence of the problem is lacking. In view of the above observations, it is recommended that further studies need to be conducted all over the country to document the magnitude of the problem. In addition, further studies need to be conducted in other localities countrywide to ascertain challenges that hinder efforts to fight against early marriage practices.

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