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Divorced at 14: Child brides married young, thrown out with no hope
Maimuna Abdullahi was sold into marriage by her parents for £120 and abused by her new husband, who locked her away and forced hard labour on her.
When she ran home she was beaten, first by her father, then her husband, and was summarily divorced by her husband for daring to flee – and she is still just 14 years old.
She is one of thousands in Nigeria with similar stories – and, shockingly, her husband blames his beaten former bride for her ordeal, saying she was disobedient and over-educated.
After fleeing her husband Mahammadu Saidu, who locked her away for days at a time, she was whipped by her family for daring to come home, then attacked by her furious husband as well.
Her battered face swelled so much that doctors feared her husband had dislocated her jaw. Her back and arms bristled with angry welts from the whipping her father gave her.
She was gaunt from hunger, dressed in filthy rags. And barely a year after her wedding, she was divorced.
It would be a tragic story for a woman of any age. But for Maimuna Abdullahi, it all happened by the time she was 14.
‘I’m too scared to go back home,’ she whispers, a frown crinkling her brow as she fiddles nervously with her hands. ‘I know they will force me to go back to my husband.’
Maimuna is one of thousands of divorced girls in Nigeria, children who were forced into marriage and have since run away or been thrown out by their husbands.
They are victims of a belief that girls should get wed rather than educated, which drew the world’s attention after Boko Haram terrorists abducted more than 200 schoolgirls two months ago and threatened to marry them off. Most are still missing.