Just days after the wedding, she killed her husband with rat poison. Here's why.

child bride kills husband
Wasila Umar, who has confessed to killing the husband she was forced to marry at just 14. (Photo: Vanguard.)

At just 14 years old, Wasila Umar was forced to marry a man more than twice her age.

Less than a week after their wedding, her 35-year-old husband and three of his friends lay dead in the couple’s home in Nigeria.

Umar, who never had the chance to attend school, confessed to the police she had poisoned the men’s food during post-wedding celebrations in their village near the city of Kano.

She said she had laced a rice dish with rodenticide purchased at the village market, bringing about a tragic resolution to a sick situation that should never have occurred.

“My father forced me into this mess by stubbornly forcing me into a relationship I was not prepared to live in,” she told local newspaper Vanguard.

“I told them I don’t like the man but instead for them to consider me, they kept on beating me every day so as to get me married to him,” she said.


Umar said that she regretted her actions and her “blood went cold” when she realised she had killed several men, rather than just her husband.

“Destiny appears to have played a wicked one on me at this early stage of my life,” she said. “I would rededicate the rest of my life to sincerely seek Allah’s forgiveness.”

The teenager has been detained in police headquarters in Kano and assistant superintendent Musa Magaji Majia has said it is likely she will be charged with culpable homicide. She or her parents could be jailed for life depending on the judge’s interpretation of local laws, although Vanguard reports that this is unlikely due to her status as a minor.

Child marriage, despite being banned as a human rights violation under a number of international laws, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is frighteningly common in Nigeria: UNICEF estimates that fifty per cent of Nigerian girls living in rural areas are married before they turn 18.

No one in the country has been prosecuted for marrying a child, including Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima, who famously divorced one 17-year-old wide to marry a 14-year-old Egyptian girl in 2010, when he was 49.

Child brides are much more likely to contract AIDS and suffer domestic violence according to the International Center for Research on Women. They also often die in childbirth, the leading cause of death worldwide for girls aged 15 to 19. 

To commemorate International Day of the Girl Child last year, photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair teamed up with National Geographic to create a series of photos depicting girls as young as five years old being married off to middle-aged men in countries like India, Yemen and Ethiopia. Take a look at these heartbreaking, honest photos here:

If you want to help end forced marriage of children, CARE is working to help stop this practice – and provides support to millions of women and girls living in developing nations around the world. You can find out more information about their campaign to end child marriage here.

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