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.
Anita G.was 16 and in her second year of secondary school when her father forced her to leave school and get married. When Anita and her mother opposed the marriage, her father beat them both.
My father said he did not have money to support my schooling. I then discovered that he had already received 20 cows as dowry for me. My mother tried to reason with my father to allow me continue with school, but my father said I had to marry. He said, “Once dowry has been taken, it cannot be returned.
My father became very angry and started beating me and my mother. He chased us away, and we sought refuge at my father’s sister’s home. My mother went back home but I remained. But I had no way out and eventually got married because my father had already accepted dowry for me.
As told to researchers for Human Rights Watch