International Law and the End of Child Marriage: A Case Study of Nigeria

Enweonwu, Emmanuela (2024) International Law and the End of Child Marriage: A Case Study of Nigeria. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Emmanuela Enweonwu PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Mar 2022_Final Award Apr 2024 (1).pdf - Accepted Version

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Child marriage is defined as the union between a child under the age of 18 and an adult or another child and remains a prevalent issue globally, with significant implications for the well-being of affected individuals. UNFPA-UNICEF statistics reveal that 650 million girls and women have experienced marriage as minors worldwide. In Nigeria, recent data from 2019 shows worrying figures, indicating that 44 percent of girls and women aged 20 to 24 are married before reaching 18, with 18 percent marrying before 15. Child brides face overwhelming challenges, including limited economic and educational opportunities, heightened risks of domestic violence, maternal mortality, birth complications, and sexually transmitted infections.

This thesis undertakes a wholistic and broad analysis of the legal landscape surrounding child marriage in Nigeria, with particular focus on its placement within the constitutional framework. Remarkably, the issue of child marriage is placed under the 'residual list of the Nigerian Constitution thereby placing it within the jurisdiction of the States' Houses of Assembly. Consequently, the Child Rights Act of 2003, aimed at addressing child marriage, requires individual state-level domestication, leading to inconsistencies across the federation. This poses a significant obstacle, as nine states are yet to domesticate the Act, enabling child marriage, particularly in regions governed by religion-based personal laws.

Furthermore, this research analyses Nigeria's engagement with international mechanisms, such as the African Union and the United Nations, to fulfil its obligations in fighting child marriage. Through a critical analysis, this thesis argues that Nigeria falls short of meeting the international legal standards in addressing this issue. This research also argues that Nigeria can draw lessons from the regional and international framework to achieve its goal of ending child marriage.

Adopting a dual methodological approach, the research engages with both doctrinal and non-doctrinal methods. The doctrinal method analyses written domestic and international legal frameworks, while the non-doctrinal method will be used to analyse the intersection between law and society. Using this approach, this research recognizes the multifaceted nature of law's influence and acknowledges the socio-economic, cultural, and political factors shaping legal norms and practices, and vice versa.

In its argument for the eradication of child marriage, this research advocates for constitutional review and amendment, activation and implementation of international laws and instruments on child marriage and strengthening of institutions in Nigeria to better equip them to implement and enforce laws against child marriage at the national and state levels.

Finally, the thesis concludes by offering practical recommendations to enhance Nigeria's efforts in safeguarding the rights and well-being of girls exposed to the dangers of child marriage.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
1 March 2022Submitted
1 March 2024Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Child Marriage, Child Rights Act, Nigeria, Religion, Constitutional Amendment
Subjects: CAH16 - law > CAH16-01 - law > CAH16-01-01 - law
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 08 May 2024 13:44
Last Modified: 08 May 2024 13:44

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