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2019 (Narrative Date)

There are an estimated 133,000 number of people living in modern slavery in Niger.

According to Plan International UK, 75 percent of girls in Niger are married before they reach 18 and 36 percent before they are 15 years old.

Mariama, 13, lives in Niger. Her mother and uncle sold her as a child bride to a local man, accepting £122 (100,000 CFA) from the man for her daughter’s hand in marriage.

I wasn’t even told; I just went to get some exercise books from a friend of mine in the neighbourhood. On my way back, I met some girls who said they’d seen people in my house. The people told them they’d come to ask for my hand in marriage.

I told him [her uncle] that I’m not ready to have sex with a man. I begged him, please – stop this marriage! I’m not eating; I can’t sleep because I keep on thinking about my new situation. I’ve been sad since the first day they told me that I wouldn’t go to school and that I am to get married.

In class, when the teacher teased me by telling me that I’m a new bride, the children laughed. And if she went out of the class to visit other teachers, most of the girls started laughing and shouting, “The new bride! The new bride!”

Going to school for young girls is very important because girls here are very close to their families. The idea is to get a great income and build a house for one’s family.

Narrative and image provided by Plan International UK