Despite signs of progress, Bangladesh continues to have one of the highest child marriage rates in the world.66% of girls in Bangladesh are married under 18 with the average age of marriage for girls in the country being 15. As well as deeply embedded cultural beliefs, poverty, is also a driving factor for child marriage, with parents’ seeking to obtain economic and social security for their daughter. Dowry also continues to be a driving factor, with prices often increasing the older a girls gets.
Nargis was 14 when she was forced to marry a man she didn’t know almost twice her age in an attempt to escape poverty.
I studied until the eighth grade. I really liked school; my favorite subject was science. I had a dream to study law, but my parents couldn’t afford it.
Although I knew of the consequences of an early marriage, I still ended up getting married at 14 because my parents are extremely poor. At the time of the wedding, I was very nervous. I didn’t know my husband – even now I don’t know his age. I think he’s around 25 and he works in sales. I didn't want to move into his house. I remember crying a lot. Everyone around me somehow convinced me though.
I didn’t know anything about the human body. I started having my periods only two or three months before my marriage. I got pregnant and I was fine, I didn't feel sick. At first I didn't want to be a mother but after I got married, people change their mind. You don’t think like before.
I had some complications during my labour so I was supposed to have a C-section. Because of my very low blood count, they couldn’t do it. I had a normal delivery instead and it was very painful. I wasn’t afraid, but it was so hard.
I felt happy seeing my son for the first time. I didn't recognise this feeling before but now I understand how it feels to be a mother. My husband was also very happy. He always wanted a son. Now I take contraceptive pills. It was my husband who suggested this idea. I don’t want any more children right now.
I'm working in a garment factory to save enough money for the future so that my son can get an education and move forward in life. I stitch sleeves. It's not so hard; the machine does all the work. I get up at 5.30 in the morning and then I cook. I have my breakfast, take a shower and feed my son. At seven o’clock I take the staff bus. I come back home after work around eight o’clock in the evening. If my son is sleeping, I don’t wake him up. If he’s awake I feed him, finish dinner and get ready for bed. I do feel bad that I’m away from him all day. But when he starts school I won’t work anymore. Then I'll be there to help him with his studies.
All my future plans now are for my son. When Nayeem turns three, he’ll start school. I do have dreams of my own and that's to pass my exams and finish school. My husband has said that he will let me study later. For now I'm happy with my life. I’m married and I have a son. Do people ever stay the same after this?
This narrative was produced as part of the #childmothers initiative, a joint initiative between Plan International and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), to highlight the issue of very early motherhood.