Target: Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria
Goal: Make underage marriage in Nigeria illegal in order to protect children from abuse
Nigerian leaders recently voted on an amendment to the Constitution that included a clause deeming women of “full age” simply by the act of marriage. This clause legitimizes the marriage and intercourse with minors in the country. Child rights acts that already exist in Nigeria define anyone under eighteen years of age as a minor. Preserve the legal protection of Nigerian minors, and strike down legislation that legitimizes underage marriage.
As Nigerian law stands today, minors are not protected against being subjected to sexual intercourse as long as the title of “marriage” is granted. Children are often coerced into marriage without a legitimate understanding of what marriage is or what a contract of marriage actually entails. The Northern, Southern, Christian, Muslim, and Animist regions are all affected by this legislation.
In Nigeria, the harmful effects of child marriages are well documented. A terrible debilitating disease, known as Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) is sadly very common among young Nigeria females. This disease, which has over 12,000 cases reported each year, is marked by an abnormal fistulous tract from the bladder and vagina that releases continuous and involuntary urine discharge into the vaginal vault. In addition to the physical toll that child marriage often takes on the body, young brides often suffer unseen emotional and psychological damages that last a lifetime. Sign the below petition to support the rights of Nigeria’s children and encourage lawmakers to protect the nation’s youth.
Dear President Jonathan,
Despite child rights acts that already exist in Nigeria’s Constitution, your nation’s children are being put at risk of sexual abuse. Some Nigerian senators have voted to retain a legislative clause that legitimizes marriage to and intercourse with children under eighteen years of age. Even if this is not the original intention of the law, the clause opens up a possibility for abuse and coercion.
The harmful physical, emotional, and social effects of child marriage are well documented in Nigeria, and each child deserves the right to a fair and safe lifestyle. I am urging you to work with local children’s rights groups to secure the protection of children and enforce laws that protect underage minors from being coerced into marriage. The legal title of “marriage” does not transform a child into an adult, and the law must reflect Nigeria’s values.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte via WikiMedia