Chadian child bride seeks justice against 'kidnapper' husband

The case of a Chadian child bride who accuses her aged husband of kidnap and torture resurfaces in court on Wednesday, a year after he was found not guilty in a country where forced marriage and sexual violence are rife.

Chad made international headlines after the 2016 kidnap and gang rape of a schoolgirl called Zouhoura by young men from well-to-do families. The sons of some senior officials, who filmed the incident and shared it on social media, were jailed for 10 years.

Two years on sexual violence is in the spotlight again with 16-year-old Hawariya Mahamat Abdoulaye claiming she fled her husband, a man in his 50s, in 2016 near the Chad-Sudan border, half a decade after being forced to marry him.

"They tied my hands and feet and put a scarf in my mouth. He took me to the Sudanese border. He hit me and did horrible things to me," she told AFP.

Her father Mahamat Abdoulaye said he had agreed to marry off his daughter years earlier, saying he took dowry from Haroun Hissein in exchange for Hawariya after she turned 18.

"(But) he wanted to marry her when she was 11 years old," he told AFP.

"I was not able to repay her dowry, so I had to give him my daughter."

Hissein "acknowledged the facts (of the case) and apologised" his lawyer said at the time of the original case in 2017, but it was dismissed on a legal technicality by the Chadian court.

After escaping from her husband, Hawariya returned to her parents' home but does not go to school over fear of retaliation.

"I'm scared for my life because even in court, he threatened me... the justice system is corrupt so it can't solve people's problems," Hawariya said ahead of the appeal.

Chad has one of the highest rates of under-age marriage in Africa.

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