Karima* barely escaped child marriage. This is her story:
Karima is 11 years old and lives in a village in Niger with her mother, father and three sisters.
Last year, when Karima was 10 years old, her parents arranged her wedding ceremony. She was going to get married off to her cousin.
Karima wasn’t told it was her wedding day. Her parents just told her to go and live with her husband straight away.
She said: “I was crying. I wasn’t eating. I was very angry.”
“I told them I didn’t agree with the decision and I did not like this man. All I wanted was to go to school and get my education.”
But then Karima’s teacher spoke to a child protection committee about the marriage. They talked to her parents and the marriage was cancelled.
Karima is now back at primary school and so happy to be learning again because that’s her future. Getting married at 11 was going to would have destroyed her dreams.
But every day, she worries that she still might be forced to marry early.
Karima is not the only victim of child marriage. In countries like Niger, there are millions of girls desperate for help. Here’s how you can play your part:
Why does child marriage exist?
Niger is one of the many countries affected by lack of food, malnutrition, natural disasters and epidemics.
Around 535 million children – a quarter of the world’s children – live in countries and communities blighted by emergencies. In these dangerous places, children are forced to flee their homes and communities, leaving their schools, sometimes separated from family and friends. Often their parents are left without any income. And they can become desperate.
So desperate at times, that parents marry off their children to older men so they can eat.
It takes a world. It takes you.
Contact your MP to end child marriage now.
Children in emergencies are some of the most vulnerable in the world. Vulnerable to many forms of violence.
• sexually exploited and abused
• recruited into armed forces and groups
• forced into dangerous jobs, like mining
We know children must be kept safe from child marriage and other forms of violence in emergencies. And we believe that all children deserve the chance to have a childhood and discover their God-given potential.
Our government can make a real difference by investing humanitarian aid in ending violence against them – and by influencing other governments to do the same.
What can you do?
In 2019, more than 34,000 of us called on the UK Government to invest in safer futures for the world’s children.
This year, you can help keep it on the new government’s agenda.
Let your local MP know that keeping children safe from violence is a priority and that it takes a world to break the cycle.
* Karima’s name has been changed to protect her identity.