But this isn't a sad story.
Instead it's one of community and independence -- from the unlikeliest source.
Yakubu began writing. And writing. And writing. The subject she chose was strangely fitting for this child marriage survivor: romance.
Soon entire novels emerged. Written and printed in her native Hausa language, they spurred on a whole literary subgenre -- "Littattafan Soyayya" (love literature) -- which years later has grown into a prosperous cottage industry for the women of Kano.
Kano's 'most subversive' author
New York-based photographer Glenna Gordon has extensively documented this invisible industry in new book "Diagram of the Heart
." Working with translators, like Carmen McCain
, Gordon hopes to take the blossoming local enterprise and introduce these unheard of voices from Kano to the world.
She first journeyed to the northern state with a copy of Yakubu's most famous novel "Sin is the Puppy that Follows You Home," recommended by a friend. The novel is one of the most accessible of the Hausa love literature; the first by a woman to be translated into English, and available on Kindle.
A couple of days into the visit, she met with Yakubu, discovering her story and the power her words have had on others.
"Child marriage is a huge issue in northern Nigeria," Gordon says. "In cities it's less common than in the villages, but in villages and rural areas girls get married anywhere from 12 to 16."
Yakubu has addressed the subject in her own novels, a collection Gordon describes as "the most subversive" of the genre.