A school in Kaduna offers help for young women who fled abusive marriages
In Nigeria’s deeply impoverished north, millions of girls who never learned to read or write are pushed into marriage in their early teens. The problem is especially acute in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria, where sharia exerts a powerful influence.
More than two-thirds of girls aged 15-19 are unable to read a sentence, compared to less than 10% in the southern part of the country, according to a report published in May.
The Tattalli Free School in the city of Kaduna was set up five years ago as a refuge for those who, overcoming fear and the pressures of patriarchal society, left their husbands when the relationships became unbearable.
This northern Nigeria school offers hope of a better life for a group of young women who fled abusive marriages that for some prove inescapable. In Tattalli, they can learn skills ranging from dressmaking to beadmaking in hopes of earning enough money to care for themselves.
The school’s founder, Saratu Aliyu, said she wanted to give vulnerable young women a chance to learn a marketable skill and save them from having to sell themselves for survival.
"You find them going into prostitution, you find them getting into wrong hands," said Aliyu, who funds the school with her own money.
"A married woman is one less mouth to feed," says Rukayyat Adamu, the Tattalli school’s director. "This will make a difference because men appreciate educated women. They accord them more respect," she added.