“I hope my soul will heal after ten years of torture”

08:25 A

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Conflicts, natural disasters, and other emergencies deprive children from enjoying their basic rights, Some are forced to flee their homes, while others are separated from their families and exposed to exploitation and abuse along the way. Girls are at higher risk of child marriage which can lead to gender-based violence and abuse.

Child marriage puts women and girls in particular at risk of sexual, physical and psychological violence throughout their lives.

Hawaa, a 17 years-old young girl from Darfur in Western Sudan was forced to flee with her family to one of Darfur’s camps for Internally Displaced People (IDP) due to internal conflicts. She is one of many girls that fell victims to child marriage.

At the age of 13, pressure was put on Hawaa to get married, she wanted to go to school and play with her friends.

I left home and came to live in the child protection centre because I was subjected to violence. Spending my day at the centre makes me feel safe” - said the 17-years-old Gender Based Violence survivor.

Hawaa didn’t know what marriage is, who was going to become her husband, where she will live and how she will be treated. Hawaa experienced severe levels of trauma, first as she was married off against her will at such a young age, followed by the violence she was subjected to from her husband and her family. This led to the difficult decision Hawaa made to escape and seek support and protection at a UNICEF supported center where she received psychosocial support services (PSS).

I hope that the government and child rights organizations protect us from all forms of violence”

Hawaa’s message to everyone is to end child marriage and violence so that children can enjoy their childhood. Her hope is to live in peace, continue her education, be safe and protected.

I hope my soul will heal after ten years of torture. During that time, I missed many things in my life, that’s why I want to advocate for child and women rights to help them have a bright future”- said the 17-years-old Gender Based Violence survivor.

In Sudan, a total of 5.3 million children need protection and humanitarian assistance. It is estimated that 38 percent of girls in Sudan marry under the age of 18 years old.

UNICEF works to deliver integrated basic social services to the most vulnerable children, including children uprooted by conflict, poverty and disaster; or those who may become victims of violence, child labour or trafficking, or recruited into armed groups.

With thanks to the Government of Germany for supporting the child protection interventions and saving the lives of many children in Sudan.

No matter their story or circumstance, all children have the right to protection!

*DISCLAIMER: All personal information and locations were changed for security purposes.