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Title:No Youth for Hausa Women? Social and Medical Implications of Early Marriage
Author:Kleiner-Bossaller, Anke
Book title:Les jeunes en Afrique. Tome 1: Évolution et rôle (XIXe-XXe siècles)
Geographic term:Nigeria
Cultural Roles
Marital Relations and Nuptiality
Health, Nutrition, and Medicine
Sex Roles
Status of Women
Women and Their Children
Abstract:In Western societies, 'youth' is an intermediate period of personal development and education between childhood and adulthood. Although 'youth' is a concept that reflects the social reality of a given culture at a specific time in its history, this paper uses the Western definition of 'youth' to evaluate the situation of Muslim Hausa girls of Northern Nigeria, who marry between the ages of eleven and fifteen, and argues that they have no 'youth' in the Western sense. While sexual intercourse and pregnancy at an early age entail high risks for physical well-being, among the negative social consequences of early marriage are psychological stress due to forced cohabitation, neglect of the first child by the unexperienced mother and divorce of the first marriage partner. Furthermore, early marriage is an obstacle to the education of women. In 1984 the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) was created and Nigeria became a member. However, no agreement has so far been reached as to what constitutes child abuse. Efforts to prohibit early marriage by law will remain doomed to failure as long as Muslim religious scholars oppose them on the grounds that early marriage is not in opposition to the teaching of Islam, and as long as important men of religion and politics endorse early marriage either through marrying young girls themselves or through giving their daughters in marriage at a tender age. Bibliogr., sum. in French.