Twelve-year-old Bienvienue Taguieke was expected to obey her parents and marry a man 40 years her senior, but an association of women in Cameroon’s Far North Region, where child marriages are rife, put a stop to it in a sign that women are starting to speaking out against the practice.
She is just 14, but Janida avoids eye contact with others, preferring to look down at the ground and nodding her head if someone tries to engage her in conversation.
Early in the morning, 14-year-old Sumari Varda puts on her blue school uniform but heads for the village pond to fetch water. “I miss school. I wish I could go back,” she whispers, scared of being heard by her employer.
After one of the six males under trial for the rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old woman was deemed an adolescent and therefore entitled to leniency, juvenile rights activists have found themselves pitted against irate members of the public demanding death sentences for all the perpetrators.