A woman has become the world’s youngest grandmother at the age of 23.
Rifca Stanescu, from the Romanian town of Investi, was 12 years old when she gave birth to her daughter, Maria. Maria, in turn, had her first child, her son Ion, at age 11.
The birth made Rifca a grandmother at age 23, and her mother a great-grandmother at age 40.
The family is part of the Romanian traveller community, in which it’s common for couples to marry and have children at a young age.
Indeed, Ion, at age two, is already engaged to an eight-year-old local girl.
I am happy to be a grandmother but I wished something else for Maria - and for me
Rifca had been promised to a boy when she was two years old, but eloped with her now-husband at age 11.
“I wanted to marry him … and of course after we had spent the night together then there was no way anyone could separate us,” she told The Sun.
A year later, she fell pregnant with Maria, having another child a few years later.
Rifca said she begged Maria to stay in school and finish her education, but she, too, married young, and was pregnant within six months.
“I am happy to be a grandmother but I wished something else for Maria - and something else for me,” Rifca said.
But, she added, “'I did not try to stop my daughter getting married because this is the tradition, it's what happens.”
Update: Every year, an estimated 10 million girls worldwide are married before they turn 18, usually with no say in when or whom they marry. Child marriage almost always cuts girls’ education short, trapping them and their children in poverty. It often leads to early pregnancy and childbirth, putting girls’ lives and health at risk. Tomorrow 11 October is International Day of The Girl when activists worldwide will campaign to end this cultural practice. - Editor