Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 10-6-2020

Abstract

Child or early marriage is increasingly recognized as a public health concern that poses significant health challenges for a young bride. This qualitative research explored child marriage among Hausa-Fulani ethnolinguistic communities in Northeastern Nigeria. Qualitative interviews were conducted with parents who married off their underage children. The central research questions relied on a theoretical foundation of social values theory and interpretative phenomenological analysis. The study results provide an in-depth understanding of the child marriage phenomenon by exploring parents' lived experiences and the role of a child bride's health in the decision-making process and illustrates how social values and norms drive child marriage in the community. The role of shame and honor are particularly significant, and these feelings drive the practice in these communities. Contrary to the prevailing narrative in the literature, no direct evidence indicated that poverty was a factor in the parental decision-making process. The decision to marry off their children was the purview of male parents in Hausa-Fulani communities, and social values were a key symbol of community identity preserved by common sociocultural practices. The child bride's good health was a necessary condition for the marriage, and minimal considerations were given to the girl's abilities to bear marital responsibility and children. Effective reproductive health education and promotion interventions are required to curb and prevent child marriage.

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