“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."
That's how poet Emi Mahmoud begins her powerful spoken word poem "Child Bride." The poem, recently published to Button Poetry, won Mahmoud the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam this past March.
In her poem, the Darfur-native tells a gut-wrenching story of a time she tried to speak to the bride at a wedding and realized she was a child bride. "She sat on a porcelain throne, beads and bows, holding plastic flowers on the arm rest," Mahmoud says, referring to the bride. "How long have you known him,” she asks the young woman. “I don’t,” the bride responds.
"She was a mail-order bride and her father licked the stamp," Mahmoud said.
According to Unicef, more than 140 million girls will marry between 2011 and 2020. Mahmoud said that the bride was only 17 years old and had just graduated high school. No one even knew her name because she only spoke Arabic.
"Tonight he’ll crush the ridges of her spine with the same hands that the man next door threw at his wife last Thursday," she said. "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."