Child brides sold for price of 'just a few goats'
CHILDREN as young as seven are being sold as child brides in Niger as the country falls into the grips of mass starvation, says charity World Vision.
Child marriage is a fact of life for a third of girls in Niger but aid workers claim there has been a spike in families selling daughters they can no longer afford to feed.
Parents have told activists that while they are unhappy with selling their daughters to men for a price of a few goats or other livestock, the exhaustion of family food stocks meant they had no alternative.
Fatima Soumana, a child protection officer, said she had discovered the seven-year-old who had been married to a cousin. Mrs Soumana said the family had been affected by a series of tragedies, including the death of the child's mother.
"The girl's mother died in childbirth and I went to visit the family and to register the birth at the courthouse. An aunt and a seven-year-old girl came with us," Mrs Soumana said.
"When I asked who she was, the aunt told me she was her daughter-in-law. I realised that the young girl had been sold to the family and married off to their 20-year-old son."
Launching a public appeal for £5m to feed the stricken nation, the charity said food shortages were affecting 6.4 million of Niger's 15.5 million people, with up to one million children at risk of starvation. Aid workers said the crisis, which stretches across the sub-Saharan region after drought and crop failure, would worsen steadily as it faced the lean season of June and July. (© Daily Telegraph, London)