By Ene Osang
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, has revealed that over 12, 000 cases of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) is recorded yearly by the ministry, following the increase in child marriage in the country.
She disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists at a press briefing ahead of the campaign to end child marriage and other related harmful traditional practices in Nigeria, held at the National Press Centre, the Ministry of Information in Abuja.
“On data of girls who have health problems we recorded at least 12, 000 cases and VVF cases are health cases that people don’t want to report because of stigmatisation so it is very difficult to give an accurate data but we know from what we have gathered that at least 12, 000 cases come up every year.”
She regretted that child marriage is allowed by Islam according to its description of maturity, saying this makes it difficult to prosecute anyone who marry off, or marry a child as the Islamic law is also recognised by the Nigerian constitution.
“Islam allows child marriage not just any child but a matured child, and under Islam matured child can be determined by so many factors.”
Earlier, the Child protection specialist at UNICEF Rocio Aznar Daban, said Nigeria has the highest number of child brides, adding that 23 million women and girls were married before the age of 18.
According to her, the large population of Nigeria it makes it the highest in number of child brides in the world.
Meanwhile, the Country Project Manager Engender Health, Dr. Habib M. Sadauki, has said child marriage “is a devastating condition,” and hailed the campaign against it.
“So long as girls continue to marry, get pregnant and give birth early there would be many more health cases with these girls so the campaign is timely and important,” he said.