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(NYT2) MWAKIKOME, Malawi -- Nov. 26, 2005 -- AFRICA-CHILD-BRIDES-2 -- When she was only 14, Beatrice Kitamula, now 19, was married to Elias Shola, now 63, at left with their daughter, Twisire, 2, to settle her father's debt. "I was the sacrifice," she said. The family at their home in Mwakikome, Malawi on Friday, Oct. 28, 2005. In remote lands like this -- where boys are valued far more than girls, older men prize young wives, fathers covet dowries and mothers are powerless to intervene -- many African girls must leap straight from childhood to marriage at a word from their fathers. The consequences of forced marriages for children and early teenagers are staggering: adolescence and schooling cut short; early pregnancies and births ridden with danger; adulthood often condemned to subservience; and exposure to HIV at an age when girls cannot even understand the risks of AIDS. (Vanessa Vick/The New York Times)

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