Lagos - A community health expert, Professor Christiana Campbell, has enjoined state governments to enforce the federal law that has established 18 as the legal age for marriage for girls.
Campbell said in Lagos on Thursday that the call on the state governments became necessary because early marriage constituted human rights abuse.
She called for increased awareness on early marriage, saying that it had serious health implication for the girl-child.
"It is important to raise awareness of the extent of early marriage and the human rights abuse it constitutes.
"States should enforce the Federal Law that establishes 18 as the legal age for marriage for girls.
"Engaging communities through public campaigns and educate parents, community leaders and policy makers about the health and life implications of young girls marrying much older men."
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Campbell said that child marriage had the capacity to create life-long impediments, social problems, and lead to psychological trauma and death.
"Early marriage culturally poses serious public health issues, particularly in the North of the country that has the highest rate of early marriage.
"Nationwide, 20 per cent of our girls marry by the age of 15 years, and 40 per cent by the age of 18 to 22. Child marriage is extremely prevalence in our regions.
"Child marriage is a fundamental violation of human rights. Over one hundred million girls will be married as children in the next 10 years if the timing does not change.
"It is associated with low or no levels of schooling. Large spousal differences are common and may limit married girl’s autonomy and decision making."