Emi Mahmoud's 'The Bride' Reveals A Disturbing Problem That's Bigger Than Many Realize — VIDEO
“I met her on her wedding day, walked up to her and smiled. Back home no one ever talks to the bride. So I thought I’d try something new, thinking I could break tradition,” begins Emi Mahmoud's poem about child brides, "The Bride," which won the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam in March. "The first thing her mother ever taught her was how to wipe tears before the blood dries, shredded knees heal but shame never fades away. Don't climb trees or ride bikes. That's how little girls lose their virginity."
Mahmoud is from Darfur in western Sudan. Sudan is one of many countries where the 39,000 child marriages that occur throughout the world each day take place, according to UNICEF. Here's another disturbing statistic from UNICEF: One in four women age 20 to 24 worldwide has been a child bride. These women typically don't get an education after these years, and they're often isolated from the rest of their communities. And, like Mahmoud's poem points out, many of them are abused.
The 17-year-old in the poem was sold as a mail-order bride by her parents and had never even met the man she was marrying. Her parents had initially sent her to college because educated women can offer bigger dowries, but her husband-to-be had them send her straightaway because he just wanted "someone who can feed the kids." The poem is full of brilliant lines, describing the justification of these patriarchal rituals as "the things our fathers taught us through our mothers' mouths."
It ends with an image as disturbing as the custom it describes. “Tonight he’ll crush the ridges of her spine with the same hands that the man next door threw at his wife last Thursday, the same fists that taught a daughter to how to keep her mouth shut. She’ll hold her tongue, bite the screams as they come, wipe the tears before the blood dries. No one ever talks to the bride.”
Images: Button Poetry/YouTube