Marriages before the age of 16 are illegal in Georgia, and a court permission is required for marrying before 18, yet UNICEF estimates that 14% of girls wed before their 18th birthday. The practise can be found across all communities, including the Azerbaijani minority in south-eastern Georgia where Sama Hasanova lives.
In villages like hers, Kvemo Sarali, custom has it that come teenage years, girls are considered ready to marry-- and to leave school. Sama, 15, is a student in the 10th grade and one of three girls in a class with eight boys. In the 12th grade there are no girls and even boys shun school - the class has only three pupils.
Sama has a curious mind and dreams of a different future - she wants to finish her education. “I always ask questions, I want to be a journalist.”
She is a spark of strength and hope.