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 Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 15:10 GMT
Nine-year-old girl marries in Niger
Niger's main districts

The marriage of a 50-year-old man to a nine-year-old girl in Niger has caused widespread shock.

Residents, human rights activists and imams in Niamey, the capital of Niger, have all expressed their anger.

Early marriage is forbidden under criminal law so when neighbours of the young girl alerted the authorities to her marriage, the Minister of Social Development called for arrests.

Bridegroom Moustapha Hima and the father-in-law were then questioned at police headquarters in Niamey.

In response to the police's questions about the motivations for such a marriage, the bridegroom said only that it had been God's order.

However, the President of Niger's Islamic Organisation, Elhaj Ismael Ibrahim, has called on the population of the country, 98% of whom are Muslims, to shun early marriages.

Another minister has promised to sanction the two men involved in this case in order to deter others from committing in future what she termed a lewd act.

See also:

04 Sep 02 | Africa
07 Dec 01 | Africa
06 Jul 02 | Country profiles
25 Feb 02 | Africa
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