Katsina govt permits underage marriage in new child protection law

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The Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari has signed the Child Protection Bill into law.

The governor signed the bill on December 29, 2020, a little over a month after the Katsina State House of Assembly passed it on November 25.

The Chief Registrar of the Katsina State High Court, Kabir Shua’ibu confirmed the governor’s assent to the bill on Monday.

Premium Times reported that the Assembly said it passed the bill to protect the children and adolescents of the state from abuse, but added that it will not regulate the age of marriage for Muslim children.

This means that although the bill defines a child as a person below the age of 18, persons below the legal age could be married off.

Speaking on the bill, the Chairman, House Committee on the Child Protection Bill, Musa Nuhu had said it would end the prevalence of child rape, child labour ”and forced and underage marriage in the state”.

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Northern Nigeria suffers from a high prevalence of child marriage, with 80 per cent of girls married off before their 18th birthday.

While the new law stated that a child’s maturity goes beyond puberty, it advised that ”there should be counselling by parents to evaluate the development of their children before marrying them off.”

The law is divided into ”survival rights, development rights, participation rights, and protection rights”.

However, the first article gives the Sharia law supremacy over the child protection law.

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