UNICEF, in collaboration with wedding blog Bridal Musings, unveiled a disturbing and powerful new video (below) to spread awareness about child marriage.
In the video, a young girl, Lily, is seen on her wedding day getting ready to marry 35-year-old John. Lily, 11, is wearing a wedding dress, while those around her smile and hug as if it’s a real wedding. Behind the seemingly happy, fairytale wedding was a disturbing truth -- child marriage is common in countries throughout the world.
“The sad truth is that a girl who is married as a child is more likely to be out of school, experience domestic violence, and become infected with HIV/AIDS,” UNICEF and Bridal Musings wrote of the realities of child marriage.
“She is more likely to have children when she herself is still a child, and is far more likely to die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth.”
When the video went viral, a woman from Niger shared a story of a girl who fell victim to a forced marriage -- something common in the African country, which has the highest rate of child marriages worldwide.
Salmey Bebert shared the story of 10-year-old Samia in an article for Mashable.
“Samia was repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted by her husband," she wrote. "When she wasn't being abused, her mother-in-law forced her to work. Often she was left to sleep outside, alone, without being fed. At age 14, Samia became pregnant but delivered a stillborn baby. After spending days in hospital, she was determined to start a new life. Once back with her husband, Samia secretly planted and sold groundnuts, eventually scraping together $10. One night she left the house, bought a bus ticket and traveled to her aunt's village. Samia never returned.”
Now, at 18 years old, Samia is a vocal member of a women’s support group for domestic violence survivors.
“My goal now is to become a tailor, have a sewing machine and sewing kit and work for myself, truly be autonomous,” Samia said. “When a woman doesn't have any financial resources, she depends on a man. I don't want ever again to have to depend on a man, neither my father nor a husband."
Watch the UNICEF video below.