Unreported World, Nigeria: Child Brides, Broken Lives
Broken lives: Nigeria’s child brides who end up on the streets
Ramita Navai in Kano
Last updated at 12:00AM, November 28 2008
In a small, dimly lit brothel in the red-light district of Kano in northern Nigeria nearly all the young prostitutes lined up on plastic chairs are runaway brides.
“I was married when I was 15 years old. I was forced into it,” said Hadiza.
Whenever her husband attempted to consummate the marriage, Hadiza would flee to her parents’ home, but they kept returning her to the man to whom she had been married off.
Finally her husband raped her: the attack was so violent that Hadiza was sent to hospital.
“We have no choice. If you’re not married by the time you’re 16, people think there must be something wrong with you,” she said. The girls around her nod silently - some of them had been forced to marry when they were only 12.
Northern Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world: nearly half of all girls here are married by the age of 15.
The consequences have been devastating. Nigeria has the highest maternal mortality rate in Africa and one of the world’s highest rates of fistula, a condition that can occur when the pressure of childbirth tears a hole between the vagina and the bladder or rectum. Many women are left incontinent for life. Up to 800,000 women suffer from fistula in Nigeria.