A 14-year-old girl, Maimuna Abdullahi, who has been married and divorced to a man that was twice her age, has just told her sad story.
In late 2012, Maimuna who grew up on the outskirts of Kaduna, was sold into marriage by her parents for £120 (N35,000). Her father, Haruna Abdullahi arranged for her to be married to his friend’s eldest son, Saidu who was twice her age. At that time she was 13-years-old.
Maimuna Abdullahi at school
According to Daily Mail report, she was abused by her new husband, who locked her away and forced hard labour on her. She ran away to her father’s house and rather than receive a warm welcome, she was beaten by her father who later returned her to her husband’s house.
Saidu, humiliated and furious, slapped her repeatedly in the face, jerking her head from side to side with the force of his blows.
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After some time, she fled once again, first to a sympathetic aunt in a nearby village and then to a cousin in Kaduna where she now shares one cramped room with her cousin’s family, just a short walk away from Tattalli school. When she showed up at school with bruises, they took her to the hospital, where doctors found she was badly malnourished. The whip marks on her back may last a lifetime, says teacher Victoria Dung.
Her husband waited the customary three months to make sure there was no baby and then he divorced her, as a husband can do under shariah or Islamic law by declaring the divorce aloud three times. He then informed her parents and asked for his dowry back but Maimuna’s father had already spent the money.
Saidu who explained that he no longer cares for Maimuna and will move ahead with his life sasi, “This time I will marry a girl of 12, so that she will do what I want to do because if you marry a girl who is older, then she will not listen to you.”
Maimuna considers herself among the lucky ones. She said, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but, even if I get married, I want to have some education to back me up. I pray that what I have done will help the younger ones, that my parents learn from the experience of my running away from home.”
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Maimuna is one of thousands in Nigeria who were forced into marriage and have since run away or been thrown out by their husbands, and shockingly, her husband blames his beaten former bride for her ordeal, saying she was disobedient and over-educated.
Some girls are rebelling in other ways. In April, a 14-year-old girl who was forced to marry a 39-year-old poisoned the groom’s food a week after their wedding, killing him and three of his friends.