Yemeni Child Brides Trapped in a Cycle of Poverty

This article was republished from NDTV.

Forced into marriage when she was only 13, Saadah is now back in her impoverished Yemeni family’s cramped home with two children, little money and dreams of returning to school.

“I don’t want a husband ever again. All I want is to get a divorce and study,” Saadah says as she sits in the small room she shares with her two boys, dark circles shading her weary eyes.

Yemeni-child-brides

“Child brides” or “death brides” as they are sometimes called, are quite common in poor, tribal Yemen, where barely pubescent girls are forced into marriage, often to much older men.

Saadah’s father is ill and is no longer able to sustain his family. He married her off five years ago in an attempt to spare her from her family’s poverty.

But her husband soon began forcing her to beg on the capital’s streets with her boys until she fled back to her parents’ home.

“He would beat and verbally abuse me and my family,” says Saadah, now 18, whose name means happiness in Arabic. Continue reading

10-Year-Old Girl Saved from Marriage

Afghan girl

HERAT, Afghanistan, 30 July 2013 – When Farzana* was 10 years old, her father, a farmer and laborer in a small village in western Afghanistan, arranged for her to marry a man 40 years her senior. The groom, already married and the father of six children – most of them older than Farzana – paid $9,000 to Farzana’s father in return for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

The 10-year-old begged her father to call off the marriage, even promising to eat less so that she would not be a burden on her family. Her father remained unmoved, despite her protestations.

“I was crying very hard and telling my parents that I don’t want to go through with this,” recalls Farzana, now age 12.

Her only support was her mother, Habiba, who herself was married at a very early age and knew the complications and difficulties of early marriage. Farzana’s little brothers rallied around her as well, but to no avail. The marriage was fixed and the dates set.

“I would have missed my sister a lot – she provides a lot of support for my family, and the groom was too old,” says Yahya, Farzana’s little brother

Difficult to refuse

Farzana belongs to a poor family in a village in western Afghanistan. With three other children and an income of less than $30 a month, Farzana’s father, Ghulam, could barely make ends meet. An offer to marry off his daughter for the princely amount of $9,000 was too difficult to refuse.

“We had a lot of problems; we are so poor and have nothing. If we didn’t have these problems, I wouldn’t have agreed to this marriage,” the father explains.

As the wedding date neared, Farzana’s mother Habiba realized that her husband was unrelenting and decided to take action. She alerted members of the Child Protection Action Network (CPAN), a grassroots network supported by UNICEF that works for the protection of children across Afghanistan, with associates from government, NGOs, youth representatives and provincial councils.

Poverty and low awareness

CPAN members in her village took it upon themselves to ensure that the girl would not marry at such a young age. A local religious leader and member of CPAN, Sultan Mohammad Yusufzai, led the counseling sessions between Farzana’s father and the groom-to-be.

“I told them that Islam prohibits child marriage. Even if a boy and girl are engaged, they cannot live together until the girl has matured. Islam does not permit such marriages until the bride and groom are grown up,” he says. “One of the main reasons for child marriage is poverty, and that forces parents to agree to early marriage. The second reason is low awareness among families about Islamic principles and human rights.”

It took three months of talks and the return of money the groom paid to the father before the two men agreed to cancel the marriage – just 10 days before the wedding.

The decision came as a great relief for Farzana, her mother and siblings.

Farzana managed to escape this terrible arrangement, but many like her are not so fortunate. Child marriage is widespread in Afghanistan, with almost one in five women getting married before age 15. Nearly 46 per cent are married by the time they are 18.

Community involvement

It’s a practice that UNICEF believes can only change with the involvement of the entire community.

“If violence against children remains widespread and socially accepted, most children won’t complain about it, most adults won’t report it, and professionals might hesitate to act upon it,” says Micaela Pasini, UNICEF Afghanistan’s Chief of Child Protection. “So we work with communities to help them to understand and identify how to better protect their children from violence.”

Still living in the safe confines of her home, Farzana is moving on. The ordeal of nearly marrying while still a child is finally behind her. The 12-year-old now goes to school regularly and finds comfort in the presence of religious leader Imam Mohammad Yusufzai and his team from the CPAN.

*Names of children have been changed.

This story was originally published by UNICEF – Afghanistan

Similar stories on Plain Talk

Young Reporters Fight Against Child Marriage

Fazal Haque, 15, student at Anchalik High School of Simina village in Kamrup district of Assam, and nine other boys and girls keep themselves busy by looking out for families who are marrying off their under-age daughters and intervene.

Young reporters fight against child marriage

Photo by MapsofIndia.com

Daughter of a Child Bride Speaks Out.

Sami Ahmed is a 21-year-old student, scriptwriter and activist. She is also the daughter of a child bride. Her mother, Saira was 13 or 14 years old when her parents began the search for an “appropriate” groom for her in Bangladesh. Saira’s parents chose a 26-year-old British-Bangladeshi stranger from England as the best choice for their daughter.

Sami and her mom.

Sami and her mom.

Child Marriage, Modern Day Slavery

In Niger and the neighboring Nigeria, a man is legally allowed to have as many as four wives. However he can take a fifth or sixth ‘wife’ unofficially. ‘Fifth wives’ or wahaya are purchased either from parents or from their Tuareg masters. No ceremony is performed, just trade. Usually the girls are between the ages of 7 to 12; the younger the girl the higher the price.

Heavy brass ankle bracelet forced to be worn by a Wahaya

Heavy brass ankle bracelet forced to be worn by a Wahaya

Nigeria has the highest number of children out of school. Let’s fix that.

Today, as children all over the US head back to school, 10.5 million children in Nigeria will not go to school.  In fact, Nigeria has the highest out-of-school population in the world.   And increasing levels of violence have targeted children for wanting to go to school and learn.  Please sign our petition below showing our support for President Jonathan’s commitment to education, and urging immediate action so that all children and youth have the opportunity to learn and thrive in society.

Dear President Jonathan,

Within the last few weeks, school children and teachers have been gunned down and others firebombed and burned to death – simply for wanting to go to school.

We stand united with UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, and teenage education campaigner, Malala Yousafzai, in supporting the call for safe schools for the 10.5 million out-of-school children in the country.

With the highest out-of-school population in the world, we ask the government, with the support of the international community, to deliver education so these children can go to school. We ask that conditional cash transfer programs be implemented at the state level for families so that 900,000 girls can enrol into school now. We also request that the state governors and their ministers draw up plans for universal education, and leading up to the next budget cycle, the national government develop financial incentives for state level results to ensure every child goes to school by 2015.

Every Nigerian child deserves the chance to go to school and learn.

Click here to sign the petition. Thank you for supporting this cause with me. Every signature really does make a difference!

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1000-Day Countdown to Global Education

The urgency of the 1,000-day countdown is doing exactly what we hoped: pressuring world leaders and businesses to sit up, take notice, and — most importantly — take action.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Militants Massacre 14 Female Students On School Bus

Over the weekend, 14 young female students were massacred as a bus taking them home from university in Quetta, in western Pakistan, was blown up by extremist militants — and we were once again reminded of the continued need to stand behind Malala and her cause.

 

Afghan Girl Tortured by In-laws for Resisting Prostitution

Sahar-Gul-was-rescued-by--007

Photo courtesy Guardian UK

Sahar Gul is a 15-year-old girl who was brutally beaten, burned, cut, starved, enslaved, and tortured by her in-laws for months in the basement of their home. The perpetrators of these heinous acts needs to be brought to justice not only for Sahar Gul, but also for other Afghans who are subjected to brutal violence.

A UN report issued in November found that a 2009 law meant to protect Afghan women from a host of abusive practices, including rape, forced marriage and the trading of women to settle disputes, was being undermined by sporadic enforcement.

The Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was passed in August 2009 and had raised hopes among women’s rights activists that Afghan women would get to fight back against abuses that had been ignored under Taliban rule. The law criminalised many abuses for the first time, including domestic violence, child marriage, driving a woman to resort to suicide, as well as the buying and selling of women.

Yet the report found only a small percentage of reported crimes against women were pursued by the Afghan government.

Between March 2010 and March 2011, prosecutors opened 594 investigations into crimes under the law – only 26% of the 2,299 incidents registered by the Afghan human rights commission, the UN report said. Prosecutors filed indictments in only 155 cases, or 7% of the total number of crimes reported.

Here’s what you can do.

Please join me in signing this petition to President Karzai and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for immediate action. This petition is a resounding plea from concerned persons around the world seeking justice on behalf of fifteen-year-old Sahar Gul who was brutally tortured and mutilated by her Afghan in-laws.

Let’s get some signatures on this petition. Sign the petition here 

To read more about this story please visit The Guardian UK.

Every Three Seconds, A Girl is Traded as a Swara

Swara is a child marriage custom in tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This custom is tied to blood feuds among the different tribes and clans where the young girls are forcibly married to the members of different clans in order to resolve the feuds. It is most common among Pashtuns. – Wikipedia.

The average age of swara girls is between 5 and 9-years-old, according to registered cases and local accounts. The reason provides an insight into the immense challenge in changing deep-rooted traditions in Pakistan: In tribal areas, a girl older than this is probably already promised to somebody else.

In Pakistan, at least 180 cases of swara were reported last year — every other day — thanks to the work of local journalists and activists. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of undocumented cases. Worldwide, an estimated 51 million girls below age 18 are married, according to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).

A further 10 million underage girls marry every year — one every three seconds, according to ICRW. The legal age to marry in Pakistan is 18 for boys but 16 for girls, though they can’t drive, vote, or open a bank account until adulthood. According to UNICEF, 70 percent of girls in Pakistan are married before then.

Swara FeatureMohammad Ayub, a British-trained psychiatrist from Lahore, has worked with child soldiers in Sudan and young Taliban recruits in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He now manages the Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital in the Swat Valley, an area that came under the spotlight when terrorists attempted to kill 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai because of her struggle to promote girls’ education. “I saw small children holding guns bigger than themselves,” he says. “But these girls…. It’s just as tragic.”

Many child brides come to Ayub with severe pain, sometimes blinded or paralyzed — the effects of a psychiatric condition known as “conversion disorder.” Practically unknown in the West since the beginning of the 20th century, it has reached epidemic proportions in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Ayub. It is a sort of psychological stress that manifests in physical ailments, including convulsions, paralysis, or fits.

“Here women don’t have a voice, particularly girls,” Ayub says. “She can’t say, ‘No, I don’t want this marriage’ … so she keeps it all inside, and eventually it will come out in the form of some physical distress. We receive loads of women here, three to four cases with the same symptoms every day only in my clinic, and I mean daily! Thirteen-, 14-year-old girls, all married.”

The rise of Islamic militancy in Pakistan could only make things worse. As extremists grow more powerful, they have started imposing their own draconian rules on society — including even more discrimination against women.

In 2004, the Pakistani parliament passed an amendment to Pakistan’s penal code making swara a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison. Since then, around sixty decisions made by jirgas involving swara girls have been prevented by local courts, though in most tribal areas the law still does not apply.

Part of this story was re-published from Foreign Policy. The original article was written by Adriana Carranca. Follow her on Twitter: @AdrianaCarranca.

Related articles on Plaintalk:

Afghan Women’s Political Power Revoked

Hundreds of Afghan women

Photo by 24piecescholars.net

Militants Massacre 14 Female Students On School Bus

I stand with Malala

Photo by A World at School

The Coexist Initiative – Working to End Gender-Based Violence

This article is re-published from Girls Not Brides. org.

The Coexist Initiative.

Wanjala Wafula is the founder and CEO of the Coexist Initiative, a Kenyan community-based organisation that works alongside boys and men to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence. Coexist was awarded the African Achievers Awards 2012, celebrating the successes of engaging men and boys as a means to empower young girls.

Below, Wanjala speaks of the work he does with community elders to raise awareness of the harmful consequences of child marriage.

The law vs enforcement.

The prevalence of child marriage in Kenya saddens me. We have collectively failed to realize the rights of many girls to a life of their choosing. In the past two years, 40% of girls in Kenya were married before their eighteenth birthday; 61% in the Kajiado County alone. At this rate, Kenya will see 35,000 more girls married off within the next year. That’s 35,000 girls who will suffer violations of their right to health, education and non-discrimination.

Coexist quoteThe Children’s Act, passed in 2001, prohibited the marriage of anyone under 18, and even stated that “no person shall subject a child to early marriage or other traditional practices that are likely to negatively affect the child’s life, health, social welfare, or dignity”. The problem is not the law, but rather the lack of political will to enforce it.

We have no adequate structures to monitor and prosecute child marriage cases, no services that provide shelter to runaway brides. Children’s rights sit at the very bottom of the government’s list of priorities, if at all, even though rising tensions between ethnic groups have prompted many abductions for marriage and rendered the situation all the more alarming.

I find it tragic that, whenever there is conflict, men use the bodies of women and girls as their battlefield and that it elicits so little outrage from state officials.

Engaging community elders and reaching out to boys.

Clearly, the cost of child marriage is too high to be overlooked. So where do we go from here?

I firmly believe that the way forward is to engage the community as a whole. Social transformation will not happen without community engagement. That’s why much of our work at Coexist Initiative is focused on raising awareness of the harmful impact of child marriage through media and entertainment.

We also reach out to local leaders, residents and service providers with key child marriage prevention messages. For example, we’ve been working on “Our Voices Our Cry”, a book that gathers the stories of children who have been sexually exploited, and we are currently pushing for its inclusion into the school curriculum. This way, by bringing the dialogue about child marriage into public consciousness and our schools, we hope to address the discrimination that is at its heart.

For the past year, we have worked closely with the Maasai and Kaya tribal elders to prevent harmful traditional practices like child marriage. I have found that working with spiritual leaders and community elders can dramatically enhance the reach of our message. Because they are seen as the custodians of culture, they impart their traditions and beliefs onto younger generations. Traditional leaders have the authority needed to decrease the acceptance of child marriage, and their voices are particularly important when it comes to reaching out to boys and men.

A key moment in a boy’s life is the time when he learns the “rules of manhood”. This traditionally happens during the male circumcision ceremony, when boys are exposed to highly gendered messages about what it means to be a man. Working with spiritual leaders has proven paramount in opening a new space for dialogue, in teaching boys different lessons about manhood: boys become men by seeing and supporting women as human beings.

By getting men to reject the practices that subordinate women and girls and subject them to violence, we can get to the root of child marriage. The support of community elders’ is a vital part of that process.

Positive changes.

That’s why I am so pleased to see social change happening in my own time. After two years working alongside Kaya elders, known for their strict adherence to tradition, not one underage girl was married in their community this year. Not a single one! And in only one year, 10,000 boys and men from the Maasai tribe have rejected female genital mutilation (FGM) and polygamy.

I must say it makes me incredibly optimistic for the future. True enough, FGM isn’t necessarily a precursor to child marriage, but they do share a common root that needs to be addressed: the ingrained idea that women and girls are somehow inferior. In that sense, FGM is a gateway to ending child marriage in Kenya.

October 11, 2012, the first ever International Day of the Girl Child, gave us a fantastic opportunity to show the changes that have occurred in the community and further raise awareness of the consequences of early and forced marriage. Maasai elders gathered to denounce the practice of child marriage and celebrate the achievements of the transformed generation of Maasai Men. We also had a choir of girls, who used to be married and are now in school perform songs about our work and successes in the community. If our budget allows it, we would love to produce a video of the celebration and reach even more people.

Most of our successes have come from working on preventing child marriage. It’s a daunting task, but we must continue our work. No girls should ever be forced to marry; not a single one.

Learn more about the Coexist Initiative here and about Girls Not Brides here.

Court Orders Public Flogging For 15-Year-Old Rape Victim

Last year a 15-year-old girl from one of the islands in the Maldives was arrested and sentenced to 8 months house arrest and 100 lashes by the Maldives justice system.

Map edited by Gillian Felix. Photo by Tsunami.com

Map edited by Gillian Felix. Photo by Tsunami.com

Turns out the girl’s step-father had been raping her for years, while her mother turned a blind eye. When the girl got pregnant the two adults killed and buried the new born. Police discovered the body and arrested and charged the parents with murder and abuse of a minor. They also arrested the girl and charged her with fornication. They claimed that she confessed to having sex with another man who was not her step-father. The population on this particular island is less than one thousand, yet the identity of this man remains a mystery, and he has not been found.

The girl was sentenced, her mother and step-father’s case is still pending.

Under Sharia Law, both men and women whether adult or child, can be punished with 100 lashes and house arrest if they are found guilty of having pre-marital sex or adultery.  Part of the common law practiced alongside Sharia, is that no child below 13 can consent to sex and that any sexual relations will be deemed as child abuse. The same law also adds in Article 25, “Unless proven otherwise, it cannot be considered that a child between ages 13-18 had given consent to committing a sexual act. And unless proven otherwise, it will be considered that the sexual act was committed without the child’s consent.”

“I agree that there is a strong contradiction here. Also, the man has been sentenced under common law. The act he committed is criminalized under the existing laws, those drafted and passed through the parliament. The girl, on the other hand, has been sentenced under Sharia law, which is not specifically written down. There is a discrepancy in how men and women are sentenced. At times females face more difficulty denying charges of fornication. This, I believe is a structural issue which needs to be addressed.” Said lawyer Mohamed Shafaz Wajeeh.

There are only 2 kinds of admissible evidence for proving rape in that country, they are; a confession by the rapist or four male witnesses. As a result proving rape is impossible. According to the judicial statistics report of 2011, ninety percent of female rape victims are flogged. The report also showed that in the last 3 years, no cases of rape have reached a positive verdict.  This year only 3 rape cases have been reported meanwhile 1 in 3 women ages 15-49 have been a victim of physical or sexual abuse.

It is not uncommon for rape victims to take drastic measures such as self-induced abortions, infanticide or abandoning babies.

The girl charged will endure public flogging when she turns 18. Imagine the anguish of anticipating that on top of all that she has been through.

Here’s a petition you can sign urging the Maldives government to stop this atrocious act.

Sources: BBC, Minivan NewsAvaaz.org

One Girl with Courage is a Revolution.

Girl Rising

Girl Rising is a documentary that tells the stories of unforgettable young women born into unforgiving circumstances.

STARRING: Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Kerry Washington, Cate Blanchette

From Academy Award ® -nominated director Richard E. Robbins and the award-winning producers of The Documentary Group and Vulcan Productions, strategic partner, Intel Corporation, and distribution partners CNN Films and Gathr, comes Girl Rising – an innovative new feature film about the power of education to change a girl – and the world.

Girl Rising is powered by strategic partner, Intel Corporation, and distribution partner CNN Films. Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchette, Selena Gomez and other A-list actresses contribute voice performances to the film, which features original music from Academy Award® winner Rachel Portman, in collaboration with Hans Zimmer.

 The film spotlights unforgettable girls like Sokha, an orphan who rises from the dumps of Cambodia to become a star student and an accomplished dancer; Suma, who composes music to help her endure forced servitude in Nepal and today crusades to free others; and Ruksana, an Indian “pavement-dweller” whose father sacrifices his own basic needs for his daughter’s dreams. Each girl is paired with a renowned writer from her native country. Edwidge Danticat, Sooni Taraporevala Aminatta Forna and others tell the girls’ stories, each in it’s style, and all with profound resonance.

These girls are each unique, but the obstacles they faced are ubiquitous. Like the 66 million girls around the world who dream of going to school, what Sokha, Suma, Ruksana and the rest want most is to be students: to learn. And now, by sharing their personal journeys, they have become teachers. Watch Girl Rising, and you will see: One girl with courage is a revolution.

Click here to join me for a screening of Girl Rising in Albuquerque. If you’d like to see Girl Rising to your area please click here to find out more.

Swaziland Bans Child Marriage

Congratulations Swaziland, for your courage in banning a tradition that has been in your culture for centuries. Now the real challenge begins… enforcing the law.

The marriage of an adult man to an underage girl is known as kwendizisa in Siswati.

Swazi pic“Swazi men marrying girls once the girls enter puberty is not a customary law. It is not mandatory. It is tolerated because it has always been done. But times are changing, and Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. This practice has added to the spread of HIV. It is a great victory for public health and for the rights of girl children that this outmoded practice must now end,” AIDS activist Sandra Kunene told IRIN/PlusNews.

Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku announced the government’s intention to enforce the Child Protection and Welfare Act by prosecuting men who marry underage girls.

Sexual activity with underage girls was previously prosecuted as statutory rape – but only if it occurred outside the bounds of marriage. Girls aged 15 and older were legally permitted to marry in accordance with the 1920 Girl’s Protection Act, and underage sexual activity within marriage was considered acceptable.

Today, perpetrators face statutory rape charges, and they are additionally fined R20,000 ($2,400) by the child welfare law. The new law also penalizes parents and guardians who collude with adult men to orchestrate a child marriage. Offenders face prison terms of up to 20 years.

At a press conference, Masuku described the marriage of girls under the age of consent as “child abuse” and said the fine should be raised to $12,000. He hopes that this would “send a message” to perpetrators.

 Harmful Traditions

Other sexual practices that have been permitted because they are rooted in traditional Swazi life have also been linked to the country’s high HIV rates.

“One of these is the practice of having the widow, after the funeral of her husband, be ‘claimed’ by her husband’s brother. She must go to his home and be his wife because polygamy is also permitted in Swaziland,” said Agnes Simelane, a child welfare officer and counselor of abused children.

“If the husband died of AIDS and he infected his wife with HIV, the virus could be passed on to the new household. Or if the husband’s brother is HIV-positive, he could infect the widow. Either way, by custom the woman has no say in the matter,” she said.

“Traditionally, marriages were arranged between families,” said Thomas Graham, a local historian. “When the Swazi population numbered in the tens-of-thousands in the 19th century and life expectancy was 35 years old for a Swazi, it made sense to marry young and have multiple wives… to keep the family and Swazi nation existent.”

The new prohibition against child marriage, he said, “throws Swazi custom on its ear, and it is a landmark step in the tug of war between traditional and modern life”.

Nthando Dlamini, an HIV testing and counseling officer in Manzini, welcomed the announcement. “Many men still believe that if they have sex with a virgin this will cure them of AIDS and rid them of HIV. Since AIDS has become widespread in Swaziland, we fear that one motivation for marrying underage girls was that some men desired such ‘protection’. That way has now been shut off for them,” he told IRIN/PlusNews.

In terms of modern law, an underage girl cannot make such a decision. But in terms of tradition, she also has no say because marriages are arranged between families by the girls’ parents or older relatives. In addition, official records for traditional marriages can be incomplete because many go unreported.

With no national awareness campaign to educate Swazis about the Child Protection and Welfare Act, it remains unclear whether Swazi girls are aware of their rights. People who choose to challenge such unions have nowhere to go to lodge a complaint.

“What is most disturbing is the fact that most of these ‘marriages’ are forced, with the young girls having little or no say in being married to a much older man,” said Maureen Littlejohn, communications officer for the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse, an NGO that counsels survivors of gender-based and child violence. Littlejohn noted that poor families are often influenced by gifts of cattle and money to give up their daughters.

Child Marriage, Modern Day Slavery

This version by @Gillianfx. Source: Girlsnotbrides.org & Anti-Slavery.org

(I write this article with a heavy heart and a sore throat. I am very passionate about ending this practice).

Wahaya: A young girl or woman sold into slavery as an unofficial wife.

Heavy brass ankle bracelet forced to be worn by a Wahaya

Heavy brass ankle bracelet forced to be worn by a Wahaya

In Niger and the neighboring Nigeria, a man is legally allowed to have as many as four wives. However he can take a fifth or sixth ‘wife’ unofficially. ‘Fifth wives’ or wahaya are purchased either from parents or from their Tuareg masters. No ceremony is performed, just trade. Usually the girls are between the ages of 7 to 12; the younger the girl the higher the price. They are then forced to wear heavy brass ankle rings (pictured) and committed to a life of servitude, physical abuse, starvation and rape.

Some women are sold to different masters over the course of their lives. They are not allowed an education, their duties are to tend to their master’s livestock, raise their children, and care for the legitimate wives. Wahaya is not paid a salary, if released by their master they have nothing. Since they were never legally married, upon death of their master they receive no inheritance.

Click to read the story of a former Wahaya who challenged the state of Niger and won.

The Stats.
Research from the Anti-Slavery International interviewed 165 Wahaya and found that 83% had been sold before the age of 15.

Every year, an estimated 10 million girls under the age of 18 are married worldwide with little or no say in the matter. That’s more than 25,000 girls every day and 19 every minute. Every day girls are robbed of their childhood. Source: Girlsnotbrides.org

Hope for the future.
The Anti-Slavery International supports the Niger Schools Project. This project ensures that girls and women stay out of slavery by providing primary education, teachings on human rights and help provide small business loans with low interest rates to the mothers of students hoping to break the cycle of poverty and slavery.

Double edged sword.
There is concern that girls will soon be forced into marriage because of a perceived shortage of wives. When interviewed, a group of village women said that if a girl is not married by the age of 10 or 12, they risked being sexually abused by men. They view child marriage as protection for young girls. According to their beliefs, pre-marital sex and pregnancy are extremely shameful for a family, even if a girl has been raped. It is believed that men would not rape or abuse a married girl.

What you can do?
Former Wahaya women feel that awareness-raising campaigns is most effective in ending the Wahaya practice, because masters are worried about the legal implications of this practice. As the world becomes aware, laws are being created, and masters are somewhat forced to release any Wahaya they have and to stop future purchase. The hope is that Wahaya may leave their masters and assert their rights.

You can help raise awareness by forwarding, sharing or pinning this post.
Visit these organizations to learn more.
Girlsnotbrides.org
Anti-Slavery.org
Forward UK.org.

As usual I look forward to your comments.