Nine Years Old and Married

Nine Years Old and Married

Publication info

Posted
10/11/13

When Tino was 9, she spent her days tending to small animals in her pastorialist village in Ethiopia. The child had never attended school, and was barely old enough to have a passing understanding of cultural traditions in her village. But that all changed after her much-older sister died in childbirth. A few months after her sister's death, Tino noticed village elders visiting her and having lengthy talks with her parents. She didn't pay much attention to the visitors; she was more interested in playing with the clay animal figures she molded with her friends. Soon, though, her parents told her to stop playing with mud. They forced her to stay inside and bought her a few nice items of clothing. Visitors came more frequently, bringing food and drinks with them.

After a while, Tino got up the courage to ask her mother what was happening. That's when Tino found out that she was getting married. Married? To whom? Tino soon found out that she was to marry her dead sister's husband, a man 26 years her elder. As is common practice in her society, the young child inherited her sister's husband and newborn child. Two years later, Tino doesn't talk much about her duties as a wife, but it's clear she cooks for the family and looks after the child.

Today, Tino also participates in CARE's Healthy Unions program, a project that promotes the human rights of girls and women by decreasing the harmful traditions of bride abduction, bride price and early marriage in Ethiopia. Through the project, Tino and her husband receive counseling and support – and Tino is enrolled in school for the first time in her life.

Learn more:

Wedded to an Education
Sentenced to Marriage at 16
A Decision That Required Courage

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Tagged: 
Ethiopia
Child Marriage