When she was 12, Chimwemwe, from a rural village in southern Malawi, married a 17-year-old boy. She had started having sex with him when she was 10 because, she said, he gave her money and small gifts, while her parents could not afford to feed her or buy her clothes.
Chimwemwe, not her real name, became pregnant, and their families forced them to marry. When I interviewed her in September 2013, two years into her marriage, she said: “I’ve never experienced happiness in my marriage. I’ve never seen the benefit of being married.” Her husband beat her, she often went without food and she had almost died giving birth.
Chimwemwe dropped out of school in standard four (equivalent to fourth grade) but said she does not want to go back because “I feel I was not good with books.”