Kano: A child bride forced into marriage in Nigeria killed her groom and three of his friends with a poisoned meal, police said on Thursday.
Fourteen-year-old Wasila Umaru was married last week to 35-year-old Umaru Sani, according to assistant superintendent Musa Magaji Majia.
Over the weekend, the groom invited a dozen friends to celebrate at his Ungwar Yansoro village, about 100 kilometres from the northern city of Kano.
The teenager told police she bought rat poison at a village market and used it to prepare a dish of rice.
“The suspect confessed to committing the crime and said she did it because she was forced to marry a man she did not love,” Majia told The Associated Press.
The groom and a friend died the same day, and two other victims died later in the hospital.
Umaru is cooperating with police and likely will be charged with culpable homicide, according to Majia.
Child marriage is common in Nigeria and especially in the impoverished north, where the numbers increase in times of drought because a bride price is paid and it means one less mouth to feed. Fifty per cent of Nigerian girls living in rural areas are married before they turn 18, according to the UN children’s agency. That’s a lot of child brides in a country of some 170 million people of whom half are under 18.
Child brides often suffer difficult pregnancies — the leading cause of death worldwide for girls aged 15 to 19 — and are much more likely to contract AIDS and be subjected to domestic violence, according to the International Centre for Research on Women.
Early and forced marriage is classified as modern-day slavery by the UN labour organisation, and Nigeria’s Child Rights Act prohibits marriage before 18. No one in Nigeria has been prosecuted for marrying a child.
Many child brides are divorced, for that reason and because of incontinence and other medical problems caused by difficult pregnancies, according to local child rights advocates who say such girls are put out on the street.