Illustration by Denise Nestor for The development Set.

You are watching: I can t decide whether you should live or die

Fati Yahaya is the coolest girl in she neighborhood, at least amongst the young girls who attend the makeshift reading lessons she offers many afternoons once many civilization are napping to beat the oppressive humidity in Niamey, Niger.

The 19-year-old with owl-like eyes stays with her aunt, grandmother, younger cousin, 2 nieces, and also 10-year-old nephew Abdoul, who French-language textbooks she borrows because that herself and also the various other girls who perform not to visit school.

Fati’s larger sister, Bayo, passed away at 15 after offering birth come Abdoul. Fati virtually suffered a comparable fate in ~ 14. Months after she was married, she became pregnant. While delivering her son, she emerged a postpartum hemorrhage that left she hospitalized for 5 months.

Two-thirds of girls in Niger room married before they revolve 18 and one-third prior to they rotate 15, follow to 2013 statistics obtained by the unified Nations population Fund (UNFPA). Cultural norms dictate that women should prove your fertility within the very first year the marriage, and fifty percent of every girls in the West African country of 17.8 million end up being mothers before they revolve 18. Much more than three-fourths of these very same girls, who go on to have an mean of 7 children, space illiterate.

Fati shares she story here.



Sex come me intended opening a door the I wanted to continue to be closed. However you cannot avoid your husband indigenous coming right into your room.

My husband, his surname is Mourtala, would certainly lay on optimal of me every night. Ns slept in the very same room as his mother and also his larger wife. She to be 21 years old. She slept with her three children. During the day, we would certainly talk — but at night, no one spoke. I would hear him slip off his shoes and then his bony knees and also knuckles would certainly push open my legs.

“See, she’s broken,” mine husband’s mother would tell him in the morning. She knew ns was not pregnant. Ns think she knew i did not desire to ever come to be pregnant.

After a while, she called Mourtala he need to divorce me. I prayed because that this to happen. The must have actually told she OK due to the fact that she soon sent out for my household to come and get me. However my father refused to pay to lug me back. He stated I had actually to stay.

And climate one night, i knew ns was going to have a baby. Ns did not want anyone come know. Ns tried to act the same. However my husband could tell. He had stopped acquiring on height of me and I heard him tell his mother that I would be a mom.

She still did not desire me. For this reason she went to my uncle and he i agree to discover a means to pay 350,000 West afri CFA ($730 USD) for me to come home. You have to pay back the dowry if you room the woman. Only the man have the right to divorce the woman. And the woman’s family has to acquire money from anyone else if they want the woman back.

It took my household a long time to concerned me. Ns was living much from home. I am a part of the Hausa (the biggest tribe in West Africa) and also used to continue to be in Niamey (the capital of Niger). However my husband lives in the southern in Nigeria.

My belly acquired so big. I sat most of the day with the little girls who were mine husband’s daughters. They would certainly peel me a potato. And also I obtained to sleep outside at night since I snored so loudly.

During my pregnancy, i did not see a doctor because he lived much away and also I can not walk without mine husband. But he go not want to take me. Ns was scared due to the fact that my mom and also sister died when they had their babies. However I walk not desire to check out a doctor either. I had never checked out one before. So that scared me too.


MMy mom had five children. as soon as she to be 22, she had actually a 6th child and she died. And the infant died. My father’s various other wife had actually eight children and did not want united state to remain with her. For this reason we checked out live through the mam of mine father’s brother.

Ten year after my mom died, my sister Bayo died too. But it was only her first baby. The was named Abdoul. I worried around him as soon as I was not at home. Ns wondered what the ate. Ns wondered what the learned in school.

He is the same period as one of the girl who stays with me. And I understand she will certainly marry soon. They will certainly say she is “ready.” yet she is little, about 10 years old. Ns don’t want her come leave and be prefer me. Yet her mommy is so tired. I think she will shot to uncover her a husband.

I watch that so countless of the mothers space so tired. And they room hurt. Therefore they want the daughters to go so they execute not have to cook for them and also worry about them. In neighborhoods here, everyone desires you to gain married. The cousins and the aunts involved your home and also ask, “When is she getting married?” or “Why have you not married her?” and the mothers obtain embarrassed and also they tell their husbands come go discover men for your daughters.

But the men they discover are always old. Just old men have actually money. Boys cannot discover jobs, for this reason they cannot have actually wives. And also mothers and also fathers worry the guys who execute not have wives will try to operation away v their daughters. That would be really bad because that the entirety family.

Even though ns hated the infant in my belly, ns loved my baby. I sought food since I wanted my infant to have food. I began to think that if ns died, I want my baby to live. And also I wanted a boy. I thought possibly he can stay v the first wife’s family due to the fact that she was kind. But then ns worried the my husband’s mother would struggle him and also hurt him.

So ns couldn’t decide if we need to both live or die.

Then one day, my aunt and uncle pertained to take me ago home. Mine stomach hurt as soon as I walked. So us waited and also waited because that the bus. And also when the rained, I had actually my baby. And also I did not die. Neither did he.

My son Mujaheet was together long and heavy as 3 potatoes. He come from me therefore quickly. And also then the cried and also I thought we would be OK.

His eyes stayed closed. They put him on mine heart. And then I started to bleed. The felt heat on my feet. My mouth felt dry. My eye hurt and I shut castle tightly. Mine arms and also legs felt yes, really heavy. I want to speak goodbye to mine son but I can not talk. I thought this was death coming. I focused on feeling the blood as it pooled in ~ my body and also fingers.

I think they took me come the doctor who lived much away. I did not wake for a lengthy time. I remember holding Mujaheet again. He was bigger. And he cried when I fed him but he covering his hand roughly my ignorance as ns rested him versus me. His tiny feet wiggled once I touch them to the cool floor. Our breath sound the same as soon as I fell asleep with him alongside me.

IIt’s difficult to talk around what happened next. Mine uncle and also aunt might not save us both. Over there wasn’t sufficient food. They obtained too much from our neighbor so that I might come home. So mine father said my son might come and live through him.

I wanted to scream. I felt an ext pain than as soon as I lost every one of my blood. Ns was so weak. But I might not say no. There is no a “no” as soon as you decide who resides where and who eats. Therefore my kid left me.

My life was lucky. Part people involved my aunt last year and also asked if they might teach me. This was the very first time I can go to school. I got to discover to check out with other girls who additionally had children. Many of them carried their babies and sons and daughters to our classes. And also we learned around waiting until we room older to get married. They talked to our families and our neighbors so lock knew we were OK.

I began to think that if i could end up being a teacher, I could go and also get my son. So ns studied. I exercised teaching mine cousins and also nieces and the girls who live beside us and also on our road.

But it is hard. One of my cousins desires to be in our one-of-a-kind program next year. But she still desires to get married. She is little. She is 13. Her mom wants to discover the husband soon.

See more: Green Black Walnut Hull Tincture Extra Strength ), 2 Oz, Dr Clark Green Black Walnut Hull Tincture

I think I want to it is in married again one day too. However I desire to come to be a teacher first.