IMPACT OF EARLY MARRIAGE AND THE PREDICTOR OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CHALLEGES AMONG ADOLESCENT GIRLS (A CASE STUDY OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGDE HOSPITAL, IBADAN, OYO STATE)
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Although the prevalence of early marriage is declining, considerable proportions of young women continue to marry as children, that is before age 18 (Mahmud 2005). It is globally recognized that early marriage truncates girls’ childhood and circumscribes several rights of the girl child as outlined in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), including the right not to be separated from their parents against their will (Article 9), the right to freedom of expression (including seeking and receiving information and ideas, Article 13), the right to education (Articles 28 and 29), the right to rest and leisure and to
engage in play and recreational activities (Article 31) and the right to protection from sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation (Article 34)(Graham 2002).
However, an increasing body of evidence from diverse settings shows that the long-held assumption that marriage is a safe haven for adolescent girls is untenable and that a number of health challenges are associated with early marriage. This article synthesizes what is known about the links between early
marriage and sexual and reproductive health vulnerabilities of adolescent girls in developing countries like Nigeria.
Adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) comprises a major component of the global burden of sexual ill health. Although overlooked historically, international agencies are now focusing on improving ASRH and providing programmatic funding. Adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights are
based in various legal instruments: in 2002, the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children recognized the need to initiate, develop and implement health policies and programs for adolescents that promote their physical and mental health( Janz 2014); in 2003, the Committee of the Convention on the
Rights of the Child issued a General Comment recognizing the special health and development needs and rights of adolescents and young people(Langille 2000). Other supporting instruments are the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the right to health—a
concept included in various international agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international Millennium Development Goals, which include indicators to reduce and eradicate if possible pregnancy rates among 15–19 year olds, increase HIV knowledge among adolescents, and
reduce the spread of HIV among young people. Various terms are used to categorize young people: “adolescents” refers to 10–19 year olds (divided into early [10–14 years] and late [15–19 years] adolescence); “youth” refers to 15–24 year olds; and “young people” refers to 10–24 year olds. In the world today,
approximately half of the population is under 25, with 1.8 billion people are between 10 and 24 years of age—90% of whom live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and many experiencing poverty and unemployment(Mago et al 2005). While sexual initiation and sexual activity vary widely by region,
country, and sex, in all regions young people are reaching puberty earlier, oen engaging in sexual activity at a younger age, and even marrying earlier(Mahat et al 2001); consequently they are sexually mature for longer before marriage than has historically been the case. The risks of neglecting Adolescent sexual
and reproductive health are much; a painful or damaging transition to adulthood can result in a lifetime of ill eects.
For girls, early pregnancy/ motherhood can be physically risky and can compromise educational achievement and economic potential. Adolescent girls in particular—face enormous risk of exposure
to HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), sexual coercion, exploitation, and violence. All of these have huge impacts on an individual’s physical and mental health, as well as long term implications for them, their families, and their communities. An adolescent’s sexual and reproductive health is strongly linked to their particular social, cultural, and economic environment. In addition to regional variation, experiences are diversified by age, sex, marital status, schooling, residence, migration, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, among other characteristics.