The history of marriage dates back to the history of mankind. Biblically, God created the first man called Adam and he was without helper. God being omnipotent and omniscient know his problem and hired him into a great slumber and removed one of his ribs and created a woman called Eve (Genesis 2:21-22) from this time, marriage was first contracted by Adam and Eve who was the first parent on earth to highlight this, the holy bible says, so God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him, male and female and God blessed them and said to them “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth ad subdue it” Gen. 1:27-28.

Throughout the world, marriage is regarded as a moment of celebration and a milestone in adult life. Sadly, the practice of early marriage gives no such cause for celebration. All too often, the imposition of a marriage partner upon a child means that a girl or boy’s childhood is cut short and their fundamental rights are compromised (UNICEF, 2001). Young girls are robbed of their youth and required to take on roles for which they are not psychologically or physically prepared. Many have no choice about the timing of marriage or their partner. Some are coerced into marriage, while others are too young to make an informed decision. Premature marriage deprives them of the opportunity for personal development as well as their rights to full reproductive health and wellbeing, education, and participation in civic life.

The literature identifies many interrelated factors almost similar worldwide with small variations between societies that interact to place a girl child at risk of early marriage. Those factors include among others, search for economic survival, protection of young girls, peer group and family pressure, controlling female behavior and sexuality, wars and civil conflicts, maximization of fertility where infant mortality is very high (The working group 2000; UNICEF2001; Mathur et al. 2003) Early marriage contributes to a series of negative consequences both for young girls and the society in which they live. It is a violation of human rights in general and of girl’s rights in particular. For both girls and boys, early marriage has profound physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impacts; cutting off educational and employment opportunities and chances of personal growth. In this project more emphasis is given to girls as this is an issue that impacts upon girls in far larger numbers and with more intensity. Besides having a negative impact on girls themselves, the practice of early marriage also has negative consequences on their children, families, and society as a whole. UNICEF (2000) argues that it is not only girls that pay for early marriage but also the society as a whole. Population pressure, health care costs and lost opportunities of human development are just a few of the growing burdens that society shoulders because of teenage pregnancies. Early marriage also undermines international efforts to fight against poverty in developing countries. Bunch (2005) makes it clear that the widespread practice of child marriage makes it increasingly difficult for families to escape poverty in the developing world, thereby undermining critical international efforts to fight poverty, HIV/AIDS and other development challenges, and making billions of dollars in development assistance less effective.

However, early marriage is one of the key issues affecting female children between the ages of 9-17. These usually occur mostly in the northern part of Nigeria where they believe a child’s first menstrual period should be in the husband’s house. In some cases, these girls are even given out before they were born to a man old enough to be their father.

However, the foundation of any human society is the family and for any family to come to the existence there must be marriage institution in the world of Heroine Boetlner (1980:322) marriage is a Holy Sacred relationship between man and woman, designed to continue as long as they both live, beside, St. Paul argue that for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and to be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh holy bible (R.S.V) Ephesians 5:30-31. As a matter of fact, things that normally accompany marriage ceremony among Nigerians and the south western State in particular are today clear manifestation of the high degree of self-respect and sense of admiration for the marriage institution.

Especially, in the south west, parents give out their daughters for marriage at very tender age or early age which form the center point of this research proposal. The issue of early marriage of girls which is often contributed by parents on behalf of their children when they are still two young to appreciate what marriage is all about, have generated a lot of problems to the people of this region.

This explain why Duoglas C. Kannel (1980:223) says men and women who married before the age of 20 had the highest rate of divorce, they were over two times more likely to divorce than men and women who married between the age of 25 and 29. With this idea of marriage at the back of our mind, we can now define early marriage according to Henry J. I. (1953:313) early marriage is the uniting in formal marriage of children under 13 years of age with a much older men. Again, Cohel R.S. et al (1980:186) argue that the teenage mothers usually for go education, even those who return to school do not continue as far as their peers who did not become pregnant while teenagers.

The above statement show how bitter these anthers were particularly on girls who were being denied of their right to education regardless of their abilities. This equally deprives them what they would have made to national development if their potential were fully maximized.

Marriage is a divinely ordained institution accepted by all humans irrespective of religion, race and colour. There are three most crucial days in the life of a man which include the day he is born, the day he gets married and the day he dies. However, it is generally believed that man has a full knowledge of only one of these three days, which is the day of his marriage as he does not know what happens during his birth and his post-death events. This makes marriage day one of the most important days in the life of a man and at times considered the greatest and happiest day in a man’s life being a day of joy and choice. Unfortunately, the menace of childmarriage makes this day the saddest in the lives of child spouses, especially the child brides as many of them are married off to their husbands by their parents out of their wish or consent. This is why it is sometime referred to as forced marriage. Many of such vulnerable young girls have no choice about the timing of their marriage or proper knowledge of their partner as some are forced into it, while others are too young to make an informed decision. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individual researchers have tried to define child marriage in various ways but the general consensus is that child marriage is a marriage carried out in which one of the spouses or both of them are less than 18 years old (Adebambo, 2010; USAID, 2009; McIntyre, 2006; ICRW, 2005). Though child marriage affects both sexes but girls are disproportionately affected as they are the majority of the victims. There are child brides or child wives (under 18 married girls) and there are child grooms (under 18 married boys),both of whom are collectively referred to as child spouses (UNICEF, 2001); but the main thrust of this paper centres on child brides because this social menace more than 80 per cent affects girls in all ramifications than boys. According to Annabel & Mairo (2007), these very young ladies are often considered ‘women’ by virtue of their marriage, but are still children in terms of their age and experience. Therefore, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF, 2007), comprehensively defines child/early marriage as “any marriage carried out below the age of 18 years, before the girl is physically, physiologically, and psychologically ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing.” Child marriage is a global human development problem (Population Council, 2004) as it marriage remains common in many parts of the developing world. It is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa (particularly Niger, Mali, Ethiopia, Chad, Kenya, Nigeria, etc.), Southeast Asia (particularly Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Cambodia, etc.), Latin America (particularly Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile etc.) and the Middle East (e.g. The Philippines, Iraq, etc.). It is mostly common among the rural poor and populations under stress (P.I., 2006).

The effect of early marriage on the academic performance of female universities students in the south west Nigeria cannot be over emphasized. This is because children of 16years old are now in higher institution, and as such some parent believed that they are due for marriage without considering the psychological, emotional and academic effect on the adolescent. More so, the academic level of the said student will deteriorate as she may not be able to marry education and marital life effectively, in most cases it leads to the students abandoning education and focus on marriage.

The main objective of the study is to examine the effect of early marriage on female academic students of South Western Universities in Nigerian. The specify objectives include the following:
i) To ascertain the cause of early marriage in south west Nigeria.
ii) To determine whether early marriage affect girl child academic performance.
iii) To find out the challenges of early marriage of girl child in Nigeria.
iv) To make useful recommendations based on research findings.

The following research questions were stated to guide this study:
1. What are the causes of early marriage in south west Nigeria?
2. Does early marriage affect girl child academic performance?
3. What are the challenges of early marriage of girl child in Nigeria?

Hypothesis 1
H0: There is no significant difference between the effect of early marriage and female academic performance of students.
H1: There is a significant difference between the effect of early marriage and female academic performance of students.
Hypothesis 2
H0: Early marriage does not affect girl child academic performance.
H1: Early marriage do affects girl child academic performance.

This study is significance to the following areas:
Female students will benefit from this study by learning that education is the only to achieving greater goals in life, and this will help them in correcting entire imbalance that had existed in girls’ education.

Parents will benefit a great deal in this study by getting to learn women education is never a waste, and that if you educate a man, educate an individual but if you educate a women you educate a family, a nation, and this will help. Change their attitudes and ignorance towards girls education.

Government both the Federal, State and Local levels will benefit from this study by realizing from this study that funds, higher access education, poverty alleviation programmes should be made available for education at all levels.

Educators, educational planners, the general public will benefit from this study by learning that girls are in no way inferior to men, they also benefit by learning how to educate, guide and counsel girls in carriers, choices of educational courses.

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