We profile the courageous girls who are standing up to forced marriage in Burkina Faso.
At 13, Maria (not her real name) was forced to marry a 70-year-old man who already had five wives. When she resisted, her father told her: “If you don’t go to join your husband, I will kill you.”
Maria walked nearly 170km over three days to a shelter for girls. She eventually returned home where, after interventions from the police, she was freed from her “marriage” and now lives with her family. She hopes to go to school one day. More than half of all girls in Burkina Faso are forced into early marriage, some as young as 11. It’s a scandal that must not be forgotten as a new government is poised to take power. In the meantime, like Maria, many girls are doing all they can to escape to refuges like the ones shown in these photographs. There they learn new skills to prepare them for a new life outside the shelter.
Out of respect for the wishes of the girls featured here, these photographs do not reveal their identities.