Thirty-five-year-old Agnes was born in rural Zimbabwe but now works in Chitungwiza, a town outside Harare where the Women Advocacy Project (WAP) operates. “I was 16 when I first married,” she told WAP. “I wasn’t going to school. There were eight in my house and I was the sixth child. My mother died and after that I had no support. At that time, I came across a man who was mature, so I decided to get married.”
Agnes now has three daughters aged 17, 14, and 10. She and her husband separated in 2008 and he eventually moved to Botswana and married another woman.
Agnes could not support the children on her own in their village so she moved to Harare to find work. “I left the children with my sister,” she said. “I had no choice but to leave the children while I work but it’s very hard not to be with them.”
In Zimbabwe 32% of girls marry by age 18 and 4% of girls marry by age 15. According to Girls Not Brides, rates of child marriage are highest in impoverished communities and girls from the poorest 20% of households are 4 times more likely to marry than girls in the wealthiest 20% of households.
Photo by Alex Kotowski, 2018 Peace Fellow, The Advocacy Project
June 19, 2018 – Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe
Names have been changed