Milembe from Tanzania was only 12 years old when she was married off by her father. The dowry consisted of sixteen cows. Thanks to a community child protection volunteer, the girl was rescued from her marriage. Milembe is now staying in a shelther and has resumed her eduction. However, for safety reasons she cannot return to her family and her village.

Child abuse

16 cows

Milembe (13 years): "I come from a polygamous family, my father has several wives. He separated from my mother when I was 6 years old. Since that time, I have been staying with one of my stepmothers. My father has six daughters. For him, we are nothing more than an opportunity to increase his wealth and status by expanding his cattle. Immediately after I finished primary education, he forced me to marry a 27-year-old man. I was only 12 years old. The dowry consisted of sixteen cows. I felt so sad, I was crying day and night for help."

I will become a doctor and help children with health problems

Milembe, 13 years, from Tanzania

Returning the dowry

"After two weeks, I was discovered by a community child protection volunteer. He has brought in the authorities and taken me to Agape (Terre des Hommes Netherlands' local partner in Shinyanga, Tanzania). My father and husband have both been arrested. My father has been sentenced to two years in prison, the man I had married is still awaiting the court ruling. Even though the marriage is not legal because of my age, according to traditional customs the commitment is still existing until the dowry is returned. My family stubbornly refuses to return the dowry."

Dream of becoming a pediatrician

"Due to the rigid attitude of my family, it is too dangerous for me to go back to them. Therefore, I am now living in the Agape hostel in Shinyanga, where I have started secondary school. I am so happy that I could resume my education. I am back on track to achieve my dream. I would love to be a pediatrician."


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