CAIRO – More than 1,000 Muslim couples have tied the knot at a mass wedding in Nigeria's city of Kano aimed at combating rising divorce rates and promote more stable families.
“We are gathered here today to solemnize the weddings of 1,111 couples under Kano state’s mass wedding program,” Deputy Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje said at the ceremony, the fourth of its kind since May 2012, The Daily Mail reported on Saturday, December 21.
The event at the city's central mosque included 1,111 previously divorced women and an equal number of men, many of whom had also been married before.
The program was introduced in February, 2012, by the Islamic shari`ah police in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, hoping to fight rising extremist among Nigeria’s youth.
It started by airing radio announcements in mid-February calling on men open to marrying selected widows and divorcees to come forward.
During last year’s event, men and women were invited to a screening review with the hisbah police to be introduced to their interests and education.
The questions asked by the police panel include basic information, such as occupation, income and number of children. Men are asked why they want to get married again, among other things.
Those who qualify are then allowed to meet each other at the Hisbah office, choosing on their own among the participants who they might wish to marry.
Hisbah chief Aminu Daurawa said the programme has arranged 4,461 marriages over the last 18 months.
Daurawa added that marriage program has also been applied to Kano's minority Christian population.
“We have included 50 Christian couples in this batch in liaison with the Christian leaders in the state and they will have their weddings in church,” he told AFP.
The mass marriages also are seen as a way of wedding bachelors who cannot afford the cost of marriage.
"Poverty is the major setback to people getting married, while divorce is becoming rampant," Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa, commandant general of Kano's Hisbah board, was quoted by the Irish Independent.
There are no figures on divorces, but some analysts say as many as 50% of marriages in northern Nigeria end in divorce.
“The high rate of divorce is a worrisome situation resulting in adultery, prostitution and the births of children out of wedlock, and has become dangerous to society,” Ganduje, the deputy governor, added.
The event also included calls to introduce new laws to make divorce more difficult.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.
Nigeria has one of the highest divorce rates in the world.
Estimates show that there are over one million women divorcees and widows in Nigeria.
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