A Quiet Revolution: More Women Seek Divorces in Conservative West Africa


MARADI, Niger — He didn’t hit her. He didn’t yell. He didn’t cheat, as far as she knows. It was just that, less than two years into their marriage, Zalika Amadou’s husband had changed. He’d become far too neglectful and indifferent for a young woman who expected, well, more.

Her mother, who had gotten married at 14 to a stranger twice her age, couldn’t understand the fuss. She’d stuck with her husband for five decades until he died, and was appalled that young women these days didn’t do the same.

But for Ms. Amadou, who married at 16, simply having a husband was not enough. She never wanted to depend on a man in the first place. So, on a busy morning in Maradi, Niger, she sat in front of a judge at a crowded Islamic court on the sidewalk and asked for what young women across…

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