This brief provides an overview of child marriage as well as the particulars of child marriage in Nigeria, one of the poorest countries in the world. More than two out of three Nigerians live on less than US$1 a day, and life expectancy is 52 years. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a devastating effect on the country, and Nigeria has some of the highest rates of early marriage worldwide. The Child Rights Act, passed in 2003, raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 for girls. However, federal law may be implemented differently at the state level, and to date only a few of the country’s 36 states have begun developing provisions to execute the law. Domestic violence is widespread and a high prevalence of child marriage exists. Nationwide, 20 percent of girls are married by age 15, and 40 percent are married by age 18. Although the practice of polygyny is decreasing, 27 percent of married girls aged 15–19 are in polygynous marriages. Included in this brief are recommendations to promote later, chosen, and legal marriage.
"Child marriage briefing: Nigeria." New York: Population Council, 2005.