Lagos, Nigeria — In a plush living room of a home in a wealthy suburb of Lagos, three teenagers are huddled around a computer.
Kudirat Abiola, 15, Temitayo Asuni, 15 and Susan Ubogu, 16, want to change the law on child marriage in Nigeria and they’re deep in discussion, even ignoring calls to break for a hearty Sunday lunch of jollof rice and southern fried chicken.
More than a third of girls in Nigeria end up in child marriages, and with 22 million married before the age of 18, the nation has among the highest number of child brides in Africa, according to a 2018 UNICEF report.
The girls are checking an online petition they’ve started. They know it’s a tall order to get lawmakers to close the legal loopholes that currently enable men to enter marriages with girls under 18. But they are unfazed by things others their age might be.

Kudirat Abiola

Abiola, who aspires to be a children’s rights activist, says it’s a very emotional issue for the three of them.”How do you give a young girl such a responsibility and have her education, friends, and family taken away from her?” she asks.
Campaigning for human rights is second nature to Abiola, who comes from a family of prominent activists.
Abiola’s grandmother, also called Kudirat, fought for Nigeria’s democracy before she was assassinated in 1996. It came three years after the military jailed Moshood Kola Abiola, the apparent victor of the annulled 1993 presidential elections and the teenage activist’s grandfather.
Abiola is also inspired by her aunt, Hafsat Abiola, a prominent civil rights activist.
“Those are my role models,” the 15-year-old says. “They have broken the stereotype that girls cannot achieve what boys can.”

Susan Ubogu

Ubogu taught herself to code at age 10 after taking lessons on the internet and already has a software company with two games in the Google Play store.
“I was bored with my math class… So I decided to get into programming,” Ubogu says as she types on her laptop. “I love challenges.”
The math geek says no girl should be denied her education because of marriage.
“At the age of 11, most girls should be getting an education — in the classroom, not the kitchen. Times are changing, and no one should think a woman’s role is limited to the kitchen,” Ubogu told CNN.
Asuni says she has been reading newspaper articles of young girls being married off to men old enough to be their fathers since elementary school.
The 15-year-old says she felt helpless about it until she met Ubogu and Abiola at a workshop in December organized by local NGO to educate students about the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“As we got talking, we realized we needed to start with a change in our constitution,” Asuni told CNN.
The girls’campaign NeverYourFault specifically takes aim at a clause in Section 29 of the Nigerian constitution they say backs underage marriage.
While Nigeria’s 2003 Child Rights Act says children under the age of 18 cannot get married, a sub-section of the country’s constitution tackling citizenship says “any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.”
Abiola, Asuni, and Ubogu want the second part of that section to be expunged.
Read More: The 11-year-old girl divorcing her 38-year-old husband
Efforts to remove this loophole, which rights groups argue could be used to justify child marriage was met with stiff opposition at Nigeria’s Senate in 2013.
“If you are 11 and you are married, you are deemed to be a woman. This is a serious problem because we follow the constitution,” Abiola told CNN.
Their online petition asks lawmakers to raise the age of consent from 11 to 18 years, a change they believe would criminalize child marriage in Nigeria.
To date over 130,000 people have signed the petition which is addressed to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Aside from the petition, the three are organizing workshops on gender equality, partnering with Nigerian celebrities to rally support to their campaign.
Global child rights group Plan International gave its support to their cause earlier this year.
Not everyone is thrilled with their advocacy, and the teens are constantly battling online trolls.

Temitayo Asuni

“We’ve been getting a lot of hate comments and opposition because people don’t agree with what we’re doing. Everyone has their opinion and beliefs,” Asuni told CNN.
Although peer-led campaigns from teenagers like Abiola, Asuni, and Ubogu are exceptionally rare in Nigeria, grassroots initiatives against child marriage have been tried before.
In 2010, the #ChildNotBride hashtag trended on social media after the lavish wedding of a Nigerian lawmaker to a girl widely believed to be 13 years old.
Senator Ahmad Sani Yerima, 58, who was previously a governor, said at the time that he had not violated the law and that his marriage was in line with Islamic shariah laws. Yerima has denied the bride was 13.
Separately, in December 2018, news of a purported wedding between a 70-year-old man and a teenage girl in December triggered widespread debate among Nigerians about early child marriage.
The groom denied that he was in his 70s and also claimed the bride was not underage.
Photos from the wedding showing the bride covered in a blue scarf with her head bowed while the elderly groom grinned at the camera and despite the denial are still being circulated on social media.
When Nigeria signed the Child Rights Act in 2003 setting the marriage age at 18, many child rights groups heaved a sigh of relief hoping it would outlaw the practice across the West African nation.
But a decade and a half after the law was signed, many northern states, where child marriage is rife, are yet to ratify it.
Plan International’s Country Director in Nigeria Hussaini Abdu says it is challenging to end child marriage in the absence of laws that forbid the practice.
Girls are already marginalized in Nigeria, Abdu says and forcing them to marry at a young age further silences their voices.
“Disgracefully, in Nigeria, there is no minimum age of marriage… 43% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday, condemning them to a life they never wanted,” he said.
“The government of Nigeria must do more to combat this practice, to protect girls and to enable them to live their lives freely, as equals to boys and men.”
Child bride turned scholar: Education is the road out of poverty
Close to 30% of women in their early 20s from low-income were married in their childhood compared to 10% of girls from wealthy homes in Nigeria, according to a UNICEF 2018 report.
The Nigerian government has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment on child marriage in the country or to the teenagers’ petition.
Child marriage remains a problem in many other parts of the world, but the practice is more widespread in West and Central Africa. Three countries Niger, Chad, and the Central African Republic account for the highest prevalence of child marriages in the world, according to the 2018 UNICEF report.
Worried by the extent of the problem, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in January called on member states to adopt policies that will keep girls in school, as an alternative to child marriage.
ECOWAS said the framework will also help girls who are already trapped in early marriages strive for a better future.
And in February, Pope Francis spoke out about ending child marriage, saying the Catholic Church would raise the age of consent from 14 to 16.
Some Catholic communities already have this law in place for boys and girls within the church, but Pope Francis promised to make it a universal Catholic Church law and urged countries still allowing child marriage to follow.
Abiola, Asuni, and Ubogu say their advocacy will not end with the proposed change in the laws.
Their larger goal is to reach those that are trapped in early marriage. “We’re going to go to the victims,” Asuni told CNN.
“We have said before that this campaign goes beyond changing the constitution. It may have started with an online petition, but the people it affects don’t have access to the internet. So we want to educate them.”


  1. I just want to mention I am very new to blogging and site-building and actually savored this web-site. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your website . You absolutely come with really good stories. With thanks for sharing with us your blog.

  2. There are some fascinating times in this article however I don?t know if I see every one of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold point of view till I look into it even more. Excellent write-up, thanks as well as we want more! Contributed to FeedBurner as well

  3. This internet site is really a walk-through its the knowledge you desired about it and didn’t know who need to. Glimpse here, and you’ll absolutely discover it.

  4. I’m impressed, I need to say. Actually rarely do I encounter a blog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Your concept is outstanding; the problem is one thing that not enough people are talking intelligently about. I am very joyful that I stumbled across this in my seek for something regarding this.

  5. Great blog here! Also your web site loads up fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  6. you are really a excellent webmaster. The web site loading pace is incredible. It sort of feels that you are doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you’ve performed a excellent activity in this subject!

  7. I¡¦ve recently started a website, the info you offer on this website has helped me tremendously. Thanks for all of your time & work.

  8. I was extremely happy to find this web-site. I intended to many thanks for your time for this terrific read!! I most definitely taking pleasure in every little bit of it as well as I have you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you post.

  9. I like what you guys are up also. Such intelligent work and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my web site :).

  10. Generally I do not read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice article.

  11. What i don’t realize is actually how you’re not actually much more well-liked than you may be right now. You are so intelligent. You realize thus considerably relating to this subject, produced me personally consider it from numerous varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it’s one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs outstanding. Always maintain it up!

  12. Place on with this article, I absolutely assume this site requires far more consideration. I?ll probably be once more to check out a lot more, thanks for that info.

  13. Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Many thanks for providing this information.

  14. Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thank you

  15. Great info and right to the point. I don’t know if this is really the best place to ask but do you folks have any ideea where to hire some professional writers? Thanks 🙂

  16. Very interesting points you have mentioned , thankyou for posting . “I’ve made a couple of mistakes I’d like to do over.” by Jerry Coleman.

  17. Usually I don’t read article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very great post.

  18. Spot on with this write-up, I seriously feel this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!

  19. It is in point of fact a great and helpful piece of information. I¡¦m glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Thanks for making me to obtain new thoughts about computers. I also hold the belief that certain of the best ways to help keep your notebook computer in leading condition is with a hard plastic material case, or maybe shell, that suits over the top of one’s computer. These kinds of protective gear are usually model unique since they are manufactured to fit perfectly on the natural housing. You can buy these directly from the owner, or via third party places if they are for your notebook, however only a few laptop could have a spend on the market. Just as before, thanks for your suggestions.

  21. I truly enjoy examining on this site, it holds excellent posts . “You should pray for a sound mind in a sound body.” by Juvenal.

  22. I do trust all of the ideas you have presented for your post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are very short for newbies. May you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  23. I just want to tell you that I am beginner to blogs and absolutely savored your page. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You definitely have superb articles. Thanks a bunch for sharing your website page.

  24. I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I found this in my hunt for something regarding this.

  25. It’s difficult to find knowledgeable people about this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  26. Hi, I do think your web site could be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, great website.

  27. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me lunch due to the fact that I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your internet site.

  28. I’m still learning from you, as I’m improving myself. I absolutely enjoy reading everything that is written on your blog.Keep the tips coming. I liked it!

  29. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I’d also like to mention that video games have been ever evolving. Modern technology and improvements have served create genuine and interactive games. All these entertainment video games were not that sensible when the concept was first being experimented with. Just like other designs of electronics, video games also have had to progress as a result of many years. This is testimony towards the fast progression of video games.

  30. This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Many thanks.

  31. Hey! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

  32. Good information. Lucky me I ran across your site by accident (stumbleupon). I’ve saved it for later.

  33. I’ll right away grasp your rss feed as I can’t find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly allow me recognise in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  34. After looking into a number of the blog articles on your web site, I really like your way of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site as well and let me know how you feel.

  35. A person necessarily help to make seriously posts I would state. This is the very first time I frequented your web page and thus far? I amazed with the analysis you made to make this actual post amazing. Excellent task!

  36. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Fantastic work!

  37. Area on with this write-up, I genuinely think this web site requires much more factor to consider. I?ll most likely be once again to check out far more, many thanks for that info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *