Chimwemwe said about the marriage: “It was my only solution from poverty, and I was pregnant.” Chimwemwe today says, “I’ve never experienced happiness in my marriage.
I’ve never seen the benefit of being married.” Her husband beats her and she almost died when she was giving birth: “I bled a lot and I was in labor for two days.” Chimwemwe has not reported her husband to the police for the violence because, “I fear my husband will be arrested and I don’t want to go back to my parents.
Human Rights Watch documented cases in which child marriage exposed girls to gender-based violence, including domestic and sexual violence.
Some girls who rejected forced marriages said they were threatened, verbally abused, or thrown out of their homes by their families.
On average, one out of two girls in the country will be married by her eighteenth birthday, according to the United Nations.
In 2010, half of women aged 20 to 24 years were married or in union before they were 18.
Some families see it as an important way to improve their economic status, sometimes through payment of dowry by the groom to the bride’s family, or through continued support by their daughter’s husband.
For some girls, marriage may suggest a route, often unfulfilled, to escape poverty.Two years ago, when she was 12 years old, Chimwemwe K. She had started a sexual relationship with him when she was 10 because, she said, he gave her money and small gifts, while at home her parents could not afford to buy her clothes or provide enough food.Chimwemwe became pregnant shortly after, and their families forced them to marry.We also learned of cases in which child marriage led girls into commercial sexual exploitation and child labor.Many girls we interviewed had suffered emotionally and psychologically.Her 15-year-old sister, in the background, married when she was 12.