Hearing the Silences: Adult Nigerian Women's Accounts of 'Early Marriages'



Callaghan J, Gambo Y & Fellin LC (2015) Hearing the Silences: Adult Nigerian Women's Accounts of 'Early Marriages'. Feminism and Psychology, 25 (4), pp. 506-527.

‘Early marriage’ is a relatively common, but under-researched global phenomenon, associated with poor health, mental health, educational and occupational outcomes, particularly for young girls. In this article, we draw on qualitative interviews with 6 Nigerian women from Sokoto State, who were married between the ages of 8 and 15. The interviews explored young women’s experiences of the transition to marriage, being married, pregnancy and their understanding of the marital and parental role. Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, we explore women’s constrained articulations of their experiences of early marriage, as they are constituted within a social context where the identity of ‘woman’ is bound up in values and practices around marriage and motherhood. We explore the complexity of ‘hearing’ women’s experiences when their identities are bound up in culturally overdetermined ideas of femininity that function explicitly to silence and constrain the spaces in which women can speak.

early marriage; Africa, sub-Sahara; Nigeria; qualitative research; interpretive phenomenological analysis

Feminism and Psychology: Volume 25, Issue 4

Publication date01/11/2015
Publication date online23/07/2015
Date accepted by journal01/06/2015

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Professor Jane Callaghan

Professor Jane Callaghan

Director Child Wellbeing & Protection, Social Work