The story of Tièmkèta: “I was a child bride. I will fight child marriage for my grandchildren”

My name is Tièmkèta Sawadogo, I am 62 years old. I live the village of Kilou, in the Tikaré municipality – in Burkina Faso. This year, I took part in the HER CHOICE community meetings with the village chief, the catechist, the Imam and the chief of the town, assisted by social workers, staff of The Hunger Project and the representative of the local government.

During these meetings, we exchanged thoughts on children rights, and learned what we all can do better to improve and ensure their wellbeing (health, food, education). In particular, we discussed the issue of child marriage and its harmful effects on the girls and their communities as well.

After those meetings, I realized that I can use my own life and experiences to highlight the negative effects of child and forced marriage. When I was 15 years old, my parents arranged a marriage for me and I had to move in with my husband’s family in the village of Kilou. I arrived in this family I did not know, my husband being an old man of about 60 years old who already had a wife and children.

Considering my age, I had so many difficult moments – sexually, not having my own freedom just to name a few. It was like a prison.

I got six children (3 girls and 3 boys), none of mine children could go to school because my husband refused it, and they had to work in the farm and take care of the animals.

When my husband died, I was forced to marry one of his younger brothers. He is blind and I am fully responsible for his care.

My daughters and sons are now all married. The boys took got the best pieces of land with all the consequences for my girls, who got nothing.

I wish I could go back in time and change the hard life my children had, but I can’t. What I can and will do is to fight against child marriage, together with my children, for the benefit of my grandchildren.