"mom" at the age of 12. / by Maranie Staab

met this young woman on a hike up to sipi falls. upon seeing her i was hoping that she was an older sister caring for her younger brothers, but upon engaging her and subtly inquiring i found out that she was 14 years old and that the children (the boy pictured and a baby) were hers. the child pictured is two ... making her a mother at the age of 12. 

i admittedly do not know her situation, but here, and in much of africa (and even the world), it is not uncommon for a girl to be married or “married off” at a very young age. while this can and does occur for many reasons there is most often a transaction (a dowry) when a girl is given to be a wife (the example that i recently heard was of “20 cows”), so there is incentive for a child to be married younger than may be good for her if the family is in need of money. 

this was only further reinforced when i had the opportunity to speak with an older man of power in the ugandan government who was visibly surprised upon finding out my age (27) and that i not only did not have children, but that i was also not married. he urged me to start seeking a husband immediately (i genuinely believe that he was doing this with my best interests in mind ... a shocking cultural and societal difference experienced first hand; for those who know me you might guess what i thought about this) i politely explained that i was certainly not opposed to marriage but that i had things that i wished to do as a single young woman and did not see the need to rush. 

he simply responded that i should start praying to my god.

note: images are cropped as as to fit within the grid. please click individual photo to see entire image.