Anita, 15, takes a photo during the Tehani Photo Workshop, which was held earlier this year for 18 Kenyan girls who escaped child marriage. (Stephanie Sinclair/Too Young to Wed)

They escaped child marriage. Now they're speaking out

Updated 4:20 PM ET, Fri December 22, 2017

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(CNN)Eunice was just 9 years old when she was married off to a man older than her father.

The young girl from northern Kenya lived with the man for two weeks, she said, enduring abuse before she ran away with the help of another of his wives.
"She told me the next morning: 'You will pretend that you are going to look after the cattle, then I will show you the road to escape.' "
The road led Eunice to the Samburu Girls Foundation, a nonprofit that has rescued more than 1,000 Kenyan girls from forced marriages and harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation.
Now 15, Eunice is helping other young girls who have similar stories. She was recently a student mentor for the Tehani Photo Workshop, which put cameras into the hands of 18 Kenyan girls who escaped child marriage.
"We were really kind of helping them reclaim their narrative and understand that this is not something about just their community or that there's something wrong with them -- this is happening to girls around the world," said Stephanie Sinclair, an award-winning photographer who founded the nonprofit Too Young to Wed and has been working on the issue for about 15 years now.
Students participate in the community exhibition at the end of the Tehani Photo Workshop in Kenya. (Nicole Sobecki/Too Young to Wed)
Every year, 15 million girls around the world are married before the age of 18 -- that's about one every two seconds, according to Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of more than 800 organizations committed to ending child marriage.
Although the problem is largest in sub-Saharan Africa, where four in 10 girls are married before the age of 18, it is found in nearly every region of the world, across many different cultures and religions.
It's not, however, an issue that is always in the spotlight. It's not a problem that is always easy for many people to see. Sinclair and her group are hoping to help change that, in part, through the photo workshops she started.
These workshops can be therapeutic for the girls, who form friendships and learn they are not alone. But they can also be empowering and a source of real change.
"You can tell your story so you can protect other people from kind of having to go through the same thing," Sinclair said.
Student mentor Eunice, 15, photographs Mary, 16, during the workshop. (Stephanie Sinclair/Too Young to Wed)