Mariama's story was kindly shared by our member Plan International.
In Dosso, Niger 13-year-old Mariama has just discovered that she will be married in a few days' time. Mariama's mother was worried that her daughter would have a child out of wedlock and then no one would marry her so she accepted 100,00 CFA (200 USD) as a dowry from a local market trader in his mid-20s.
"I've been sad since I found I was getting married", Mariama tells Plan, "I can't eat. At night I can't sleep because that's all I think about. I don't even go outside anymore because I feel everyone is looking at me, as a new bride."
Mariama's mother explains: "In our Touareg tradition, we don't tell girls that they are to be married. They just find out the day it happens (...) I got married when I was 10 years old. And when they took me to the man, my husband, I thought he was my father (...) I really regret what is happening, but you have to understand me. I am a widow - my husband is dead. Even if I didn't have anyone to feed, at night Im always thinking 'What am I going to eat tomorrow?'"
Watch the full video here.
Learn more about Plan's work in Niger.
In the time it has taken to read this article 14 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 3 seconds