BY MR. EGBAGBARA BLESSING
I thank the Chairman and members of the Warri Diocese, especially Elite Social Club, Delta State for searching me out to present this paper in their annual event. I also thank them for given me this opportunity to write on a topic of my choice, which is a very big crankier worm, eating very deep presently in this our Nation Nigeria, especially among the Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, Itsekiri Nations of the Niger Delta. Though this placed a great burden on me. I shall take responsibility, for the materials contained in this lecture.
EARLY CHILD MARRIAGE:
I had chosen to write on the topic, “Early child marriage, the implication on the Urhobo Nation. I have decided to present this paper on the topic, in an attempt to highlight the low level of academic and educational attainment, our young intelligent and dynamic youthful ladies are going through; our young intelligent beautiful ladies who are suppose to be the pride of the Urhobo Nation and become the Dr. Cecilia Ibru; Chief Ekpiwhre, professor Dora Akinyuli of tomorrow to the Urhobo Nation, with which the Urhobo Nation is suppose to conquer other major ethnic group in Nigeria, had undergone.
Before going in-depth into what early marriage is all about, I would want to render my appreciation to Prof.(s) L.O. Eboh, of Delsu Abraka, Prof. Patrick Mouboghare Hon. Commissioner for Higher Education Delta State, my mentor in unionism, for impacting the right knowledge into me, Late Chief John Signor Egbagbara Uyota’ovie of Ughelli Kingdom, Aduvikaye Odedaye Egbagbara my parents, for imbibing the right norms and values of the Urhobo Culture into me and making me useful to the society, Ms Shaka Rosemary, my friend and colleague in the struggle, who always inspire me to write, Mrs. Julie Adjarho Egbagbara, Christabel Kesiena Egbagbara my wife, who always burn the midnight candle with me, anytime I have a paper of this nature to present and Ogheneserome Promise, Oghenekobiruo Miracle, Oghenemise Peniel David Egbagbara, my children for tolerating my continuous absence from home whenever I have a paper of this nature to present.
The word marriage had be viewed from different perspectives by authors. Wilkins (1986) explained that marriage is the coming together of a man and woman so that they can live together, procreate, bring children, support each other and produce a medium of happiness. Marriage therefore like language, had been a part of human experience for a long time. Men and women must exist before there will be a marriage and there could be a relationship that is too frequently not relished, but endured (ONUZUBBIKE 2000). INUITZ (1997). Sees marriage as a key part of economic and political structure, connecting ties between families and groups. It is a legal-religious agreement by which, a man and woman are legally, religiously and traditionally united, thereby establishing a long life of sensation is envisaged. Cynthia and Iyords (1994) Opined that early marriage and child bearing (family formation) are frowned at. Early means near to beginning of a period of time. Early can be described as the usual time or proper time.
Sociologically, marriage is define as early, if a boy or girl marries before early marriage in accordance with the norms, customs and sociological background of the society in question. Marriage is equally considered early when the individuals involved in the relationship are not ready to support a family unit, physically, socially, economically, psychologically and normally. Marriage ceremony does not only serves as a social device for determining who may become parent, but also signifies the time when parenthood may commence. Fursternberse (1976) observed that in the traditional social system in which family formation tends to occur early, the age of marriage is held to be postponed beyond the point at which individuals are biologically capable of becoming parent. In various communities, some children are given to marriage rather too early, the health social and economic consequences not withstanding.
CAUSE OF EARLY MARRIAGES:
Blood and Wolfe 1978, Furstenberg (1976) opined that limited economic opportunity and lack of higher education expectations can lead to early parenthood. Some female marry early in other to escape from unhappy home situations. Constant conflicts with siblings, crowded living conditions and authoritarian parents also induce young people to choose early marriage. The trend towards more unprotected sexual behaviours purer to marriage have given rise to increased risks of unwanted pregnancy. Some teenagers who find themselves entangled in such problems may have no option than to be forced on a man for marriage. Strong social tradition and family pressure in which the teenage girl will have a relatively limited voice in making the decision to whom and when to marry can equally be a prides posing factor to early marriage.
The social and economic pressures of urban life make it difficult for some parents to effectively supervise their young daughters adequately. Added to this is the harmful influences of electronic and print media that negatively stimulate opportunities for sexual encounter’s and experimentations among young people, the end result of most of these experiences is unwanted pregnancy and unprepared marriages with resultant negative consequences.
The traditional Nigeria culture encouraged the early marriages. Marry were arranged quite early in life. Where family are friendly in order to connect the family relationship marriage were arrange early to avoid the children mixing up with other people, which could make them change their minds, when they get older. Parent are anxious to have successors, when will have a grandly.
Poverty also lead to early marriage. Young girls are sometimes force to marry adult men as a means of paying debts which their parents owned. Parent borrows money from this men and promise to pay back or give their daughters to marry. This is done in most cases without the consent of the daughter; some parents are poor that, they cannot afford to pay for the education of their wards, in such cases, where the finance is limited, the boys are given preference, since they will inherit their parents and keep the family name; the girls are married out early to provide money for the education of the boys. Moreover when parents are unable to meet the demands of their wards as a result of financial background, the teenagers find alternative means of providing for themselves gift from older men who lure them into sexual relation’s with them, which may result to pregnancy. Some time they are force to marriage these older men and they become 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th wives, unhappy, unfavourable home environment. Psychological believe that a comfortable home environment in which the adolescent feels secure is necessary for good moral development. Where this is lacking and the home is devoid of parental love and affection, the adolescent feels insecure and the girl may look for a permanent place for affection. This may in turn lead to teenage pregnancy which may in turn lead to teenage pregnancy.
The influx of pornographic materials and immoral movies. Adolescents watch these in cinemas, and some time in their own homes in the absence of their parent, whose parents have videos, adolescents like to experiment on things they see. This can lead to teenage pregnancy which would lead to early pregnancy marriage. Promiscuity on the part of a girl can make a parent marry out his daughter so early enough to avoid disgrace, which may be caused by their daughters getting pregnant out of wedlock (Iroegbu 1996).
Peer Group Effects: A girl may want to get married because his friend or peer group are all married and perhaps are better off he wants to belong.
Early Maturity: Can lead early child marriage, this especially when a girl matures earlier than her mates, she attract allentwin early and may be married off. Low income housing like one room, and parlour, where children tends to imitate what they see in their parents. This lends access to promiscuity.
Parenting Style: Where adolescent are allowed to do what they like to do without control, (extreme permissiveness) there is more likehood of deviant sexual behaviour and teenage pregnancy can result. Since parental control is or absent.
School Dropout: This is one of the causes of early child marriage, where a girl continuously fails in school work, she may find that the only alternative left for her is to marry, and raise a family. School dropout may also lead into teenage pregnancy, Finally: large family size and the depressed economy contributes to early marriage. This is because, parents give birth to many children and fined it extremely difficult to cope with their educational, social economic and other demands, as the child grow up. Hence such parents give out their daughters for marriage at a very age, hereby shifting the responsibilities to the husband.
CONSEQUENCE OF EARLY MARRIAGE: Marrying before physical and mental maturity has a lot of debilitary effects on the part of the spouses and the woman in particular. Fletcher, (1969) pointed out that the lack of understanding and self-esteems matters. Furstenberg (1976) Opined that early marriage can result to couples lacking acquisition of complex knowledge and skills, lack of substantial investment of material resources, and lack of overall knowledge of managing a home are also effects of early marriage. Also early child marriage and the resultant pregnancy may expose the woman to medical, educational and social economic consequences, as well as child growing up to be suffered. This is as a result of the mother venting her anger and frustration of unfilled dreams on the child. The child may become delinquent in life due to poor care and lack of disciplinary control.
EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS: The life of adolescence girl is put at risk by pregnancy and child birth within or outside marriage. For instance adolescence pregnancy places a serious limitation on the educational pursuit of the teenager. Due to cultural orientation of most ethnic groups, parents always show lukewarm attitudes towards unmarried teenager that become pregnant. The father of the teenager is usually disappointed while the mother is disillusioned, because of the assumption that the girl has brought shame to the family. Arising from this, the chances will be that, the educational pursuit of such a teenager girl will stop abruptly. She now becomes a dropout and a victim of early marriage, as the parents may be willing to give her out to any needy man under the disguise of marriage. This scenario contributes to the educational backwardness of girls in our society. Consequently this has given rise to high incidence of illiteracy among girls. It has also brought about lack of skilled woman in specialized sector of the economy. This is because a teenage pregnant woman will loose opportunity for advancement in education and good employment. Moreover those girls who are lucky enough to continue their education, after this experience are likely to loose some years in their education and cannot meet up with their peers.
Early marriage disrupt the normal life cause of the mother unscheduled parenthood propels the young mother into a role for which she is only causally prepared for an often feels unready to assume. This situation often leads to divorce, separable and child abandonment. High divorce rate is experienced later in life due to change of values and wanting to catch up with what they missed as teenagers. Teenagers do not appreciate the demands and scarifies needed in marriage because of immaturity, there may be wife battening and family conflict following such premature relationship.
In addition precipitately into parenthood prompts the social and vocational experiences that adolescent would otherwise acquire to prepare her adult roles including motherhood.
However, there could be problem of Chronic morbidity, infertility and mortality. A part from biomedical factors, inadequate parenting (because of the immaturity of the young mother and father) will affect their offspring. There is also the likelihood of an adolescent pregnancy occurring in the next generation as well. This perpetuates poverty and contributes to uncontrolled population, growth as well as negative stigma on the family tree. The risk of having too many children cannot be over emphasized this is because the fertility years is long between 15– 45years. Besides, the teenager lacks education and cannot appreciate the need for family planning.
Furthermore, there could be inferiority complex. Teenager pregnancy and early marriage can predispose such teenagers towards looking older than their ages. They therefore may feel ashamed on seeing their fellow ex-school mates, who will look radiant, economically dependent and developed. Economically, Nzeeker (1994) rightly pointed out that, when a girl breaks her education due to marriage, she starts a cycle of poverty for herself and her family the tendency is that she may not be able to go back to school, she may end up being an unskilled person and this limits her resourcefulness as well as the type of job she can get. It will therefore become difficult for the family to withstand the financial demands of their nuclear family as well as extended family structure. The cycle in turn may affect the children who cannot attend good schools because of lack of money to meet up their financial demands of good school amidst such poverty; the children may end up engaging in street hawking, prostitution and child labour. Such cycle of poverty may continue from generation to generation. Teenage marriages are less stable than marriage of older persons. Teenagers have higher divorce rates than couples who are older at marriage. As studies have also revealed that infant mortality was higher among children born of very young mothers.
Remedy to child early marriage: Having analyze the consequences of abusing the child through early marriage, effort should be made towards tackling the problems. Therefore, there is need to introduce family life education, to the different group of persons like the teenagers, youths, and adult. Teenagers in the primary schools should be taught through subjects like primary science, social study and health education, while those in the secondary schools be taught through subjects like biology, health education, health science, integrated science and social studies.
Those in the tertiary should acquire such desirable knowledge through general studies (G.S) courses and population courses as well as symposium on family life education issues. This become necessary because majority of young people have unprotected sexual activities, couple with total lack of special youth programme of the family planning programme responsive to her needs of the youth.
B. Law should be equally enforced towards minimum age of marriage for female and male youth in developing country of the world such age should be paged at 20 years for females and 30 years for male.
C. religious leaders, community leaders and parents should inco-opt the right value and norms into their children as they are like the mirror which reflects their characters, because an Elephant cannot beget to a Goat.
SUMMARY: The paper clear presents the meaning of marriage, early marriage, causes of early marriage, the consequences of early marriage on the society, educational, socio-economic implications on the nation and remedy to early marriage were proffered.