Issues of the Tradition of Early and Arranged Marriages.

8 Comments » December 6th, 2008 posted by // Categories: General Articles



Zainab ran away from home, not because she was a rebellious child, a truant or a wayward girl. She was only 12 years old, and her parents had accepted her bride price from Alhaji Sabo, a man who was old enough to be her grandfather.

She ran away from home because she did not want to be married off. Zainab wanted to attend school and read to become a lawyer. But her culture and tradition frown on her dreams.

In Northern Nigeria, especially amongst the traditional Hausa tribe, Zainab at twelve is ripe for marriage.

When Zainab ran away from Home, in protest of her cultural destiny, the leaders of her community cursed this age and time in which we live. Her parents would not fathom Zainab’s reasons for running away from home.

‘Alhaji Sabo was a rich man, he would have taken good care of Zainab and help us out of this poverty,’ her mother lamented.

The Islamic cleric too accused Zainab’s parents of bad child upbringing.

Young girls from the Northern Nigerian tribes are given into marriage at very young ages. Some are given into marriage as early as 11 years. It is believed that the longer a girl is unmarried, the higher the risk of her becoming promiscuous.

Some Islamic clerics say that it is in order to prevent the shame of pregnancy- out of wedlock, that they marry the girls off so early.

According to some Hausa/Islamic traditionalist, pregnancy before marriage remains the worst shame a girl could bring to her family, and to safeguard their honor, a family marries out their young daughter, once she began to develop sexuality.

For most of it, the less privileged families like Zainab’s, marry their daughters off to men with reasonable means of livelihood who can secure better living standards for the young girl and help bail them out of poverty.

Bizarre tradition

This bizarre tradition sees about 30 percent of pre-teen girls of the Hausa tribe of Nigeria given in marriage to much older men. The young girls are married off before they are old enough to get into high school.

This cultural and religious norm of the Hausa people is considered abusive and unhealthy for the child (female child) but it is highly encouraged by the Islamic clerics, parents and state parliamentarians in northern Nigeria.

This long-held cultural values – and poverty – now dictate the futures of most young girls of the Hausa tribe, including Zainab‘s.

Should UNICEF and other NGO’s back-off, or give up on the children (Female children) who have been denied and are being denied their rights to an education, their rights to a healthy life and their rights to protection, amongst other rights of theirs that is being abused under this traditional practice?

UNICEF, UNESCO and every other Organization concerned about children, must continue to find ways to rescue these young girls from such unhealthy practices.

According to some statistics, almost 12 million under fifteen aged girls are denied education because they are married off to satiate older men while their parents hope to gain some financial compensation.

Zainab found

Without education the lives of such girls are reduced to that of dependence and subservience. However, most of the girls who choose to flee their communities in order to avoid early marriage, like Zainab, face another chapter of problems and challenges.

From the torments of early and arranged marriage Zainab was later found on the ravenous streets, where she landed, begging for food and money. She was exposed to rape, sexual exploitation and all forms of danger. Her dream of reading to become a Lawyer could never be realized from the situation she had found herself.

All the twelve year old Zainab wants is a ‘normal’ life.

For the thousands of average Hausa girls facing this non-fictional challenge of legalized pedophilia, the society needs to draw a line between cultural norms and human rights, between traditional practices and social/civil rights, in the dawn of the growth and development of humanity.

(Zainab is a fictional character, but her story and the challenges potrayed in this article are non-fictional)

Opt In Image
Send Me Free Email Updates

(enter your email address below)

8 Responses to “Issues of the Tradition of Early and Arranged Marriages.”

  1. Mohammed Muazu says:

    Dear writer, i would like to start by asking that a lady of such age cant she has sexual felling? and if we say she is small to get married but she is not small to be having sex outside, which is now more obvious among southern girls who are clamouring of such marriage as child abuse.

    Kindly permit me to say that this issue has to be left over because this tradition or religeous believe is the best so far. can you agree with me that in southern part of this country prostitution is almost legalist under the predent of christiaty believe which is not true, because even christianity does not allow a girl to go and stay with man having all sexual satisfaction without marriage and their parent were happy that their child has gotten somebody to share life with, is that not more barbaric than early marriage? My dear marriage (early or late) is the most acceptable act in eyes of God, not any other act of ‘WAJOKO”.

    • abubakar says:

      Dear Muazu,
      pls dont try to defend in the name of religion. Why dont you think of the writer’s objective. Is the girl not safe in the hands of parents till the time she pursues her dreams of education and career? Are there no muslims in this world, who got married as adults? Your reply shows a fanatical attitude in that you think that all muslim girls should be married off before 12 years. Marry of your daughter and grand daughters immediately after birth, because as you say..god wil approve of it.

      • Mohammed Muazu says:

        Mr. Abubakar,
        Your name sound like believer but your attitude different. while I ‘will not blame you because most people differ with their religion believe. Please kindly ask your paremt whether what I said is out of point before you called it a Fanatical attitude. or go and learn from religious teaching how does it happen before responding to matterrs that relate religion.

      • muhammad nura says:

        let every body stand on his religion faith because in islam women get marriage when they mature instance of what christian are doing to live there girls for prostitute action and claim for rightious believer is lie..this kind of girls before they get marriage people outside have know there private part hundred times,tell me which one is better between muslim practice and christian practice. i dont know why christians they dosent want truth

    • abubakar says:

      Dear Muazu,
      i am a believer in god and i am a muslim. I am a free thinking individual and have been brought up by my progressive muslim parents to be free thinking. My sisters have not married till they have completed their MBBS and MS economics respectively. They do not wear lipaya on a regular basis except during sallah. What more, i am a grown up and need not learn more about religion as i am not obsessed with it. What matters to me is that I believe in god, and that human beings are created equal and every human being has equal rights and freedom is desired by everyone. I do not follow blindly all the religious practices which have no reason or logic in our practical life. Everyone knows there is one creator and I am sure he will surely not like to force marriages on poor and hapless girlchildren. My advise is do not be obssessed with religion all the time, but think of the development of your own, your neighbouring society etc. If you cling back to the practices that have no relevance to our life, there is no progress but only stagnation and conflict. For example my sisters nor my daughters wear a lipaya except during sallah. You need to read about the muslim celebrities like Iman abdul majid, ayan hirsi ali, Sania Mirza, Maysoon shaladi, fawzia mohammed etc etc who dared to dream and became successful, because they know religion will not carry them forward.

    • abubakar says:

      Dear Muazu,
      my parents are progressive and have not got my sisters married till they completed (one her MBBS and other her Masters in Econ.). It is beacuse my parents fully know the ill effects of child and forced marriages. There is no need for me to learn anymore about religion. All that matters to me is freedom and eqaulity irrespective of the religion or gender. I am not bound by religious superstitions, nor am carried away by religious sentiments. The best thing for you is to read more about muslim celebrities in various fields iman abdul majid, maysoon shaladi, fawzia mohammed, sania mirza, ayan hirsi ali, queen rania of jordan. Lets be progressive, for our own development. Religion doesnt matter, as long as you beleive in god and do not hurt others

  2. abubakar says:

    Dear Muazu,
    my parents are progressive and have not got my sisters married till they completed (one her MBBS and other her Masters in Econ.). It is beacuse my parents fully know the ill effects of child and forced marriages. There is no need for me to learn anymore about religion. All that matters to me is freedom and eqaulity irrespective of the religion or gender. I am not bound by religious superstitions, nor am carried away by religious sentiments. The best thing for you is to read more about muslim celebrities in various fields iman abdul majid, maysoon shaladi, fawzia mohammed, sania mirza, ayan hirsi ali, queen rania of jordan. Lets be progressive, for our own development. Religion doesnt matter, as long as you beleive in god and do not hurt others.

  3. Murtadha Muhammad says:

    Dear Abubakar, More highlight on what a brother MU’AZU mentioned, It is a shock to come across a born muslim with a view or perception of having so called ‘FREE THINKING ATTITUDE’. Islamic wise, we (Muslims) are expected to having total submission towards the command of ALLAH and HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD (S.A.W.). Only by doing so one can answer the full name and meaning of ISLAM or MUSLIM and NOT as the western eragons think ISLAM only means nothing but PEACE!!. My dear brother Abubakar think twice pls.

Leave a Reply

Home | About | Contact | Login