Friday, July 26, 2013

Press Release: The retention of the provision of Section 29(4)(b) in the amendment process of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB) strongly condemns the recent happenings with the Nigerian constitutional amendment process in the Senate to retain the provision of Section 29(4) (b) which says that “any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age", This provision would imply that a female child even at birth, if married, is deemed to be of full age.

This is particularly disheartening given the high rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria, primarily due to the prevalence of Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) / Rectovaginal fistula (RVF). The majority of the cases of VVF in Nigeria are as a result of early girl child marriage. Early marriage in many instances leads to the withdrawal of girls from schools and thrusts upon them marital and reproductive responsibilities for which they are neither physically nor mentally mature to carry out.

BAOBAB sees this clause as a clear violation of the rights of the girl child and various international treaties such as:
  • The Child Rights Act 2003: Section 21 & 22 which prohibits child marriage and betrothal .
  • Convention of Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): Article 16 (2) which says the betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.
  • Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa Article 6 (b) which provides that the minimum age of marriage for women is 18 years.
BAOBAB is using this medium to call on the National Assembly, Senate and the Nigerian government to:
  1. Remove the contentious provision of Section 29(4) (b) from the Constitution.
  2. Fulfill its obligations of implementing international treaties which Nigeria signed and ratified that would protect rights of the girl child such as The Child Rights Act, CEDAW & the Protocol to the African Charter


Anne Lawal
Ag. Executive Director
BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights

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