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Matilda

2014 (Narrative date)

In Tanzania, 4 out of 10 girls are married before their 18th birthday. A study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that 37 percent of Tanzanian women aged 20−24 years were first married or in union before the age of 18, between 2000−2011. Early marriage remains a significant problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, with UNICEF predicting that half of the world’s child brides will be African by 2050.

Matilda was forced to marry a man she did not know. Her husband physically and sexually abused her and could not afford to support her.

My father said You cannot continue with your education. You have to get married because this man has already paid dowry for you.

I felt very sad. I couldn’t go to school, dowry was paid, and I could not disobey my father. I did not know my husband before.

The village elders supported my father’s decision for me to get married. I had nothing to do. I had no way out but to allow to get married.

My husband was very poor. When I would get sick, he would not even have money to take me to the hospital.

 

As told to researchers for Human Rights Watch