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 girl gets.
Anita was 13 years old when she was forced to marry a man she did not know. Anita became pregnant 5 months in to the marriage at 14 years old. Her delivery was extremely difficult and the baby died, leaving Anita in severe pain and injured. Anita now worries that if she cannot have another baby, her husband will leave her.
I feel so sad. My baby died in labour and I'm still in such pain; I can't walk properly. I was in the hospital for 12 days afterwards because of my injuries. After my delivery, I had no control when I urinated. Lying down in bed, I don’t leak. But as soon as I get up and take a step, I urinate. I wet my clothes and everything. I worry if I’ll ever get well.
I'm praying that God takes care of me. I had a son, who died. God took him away. Please give me a chance to be a mother again. Without children, a person’s world is so dark.
Before I got married, I lived with my mother, father, seven sisters and a little brother. My family is poor so I went to school for only two years. One day my aunt came to visit and asked my father about marrying me off. I wasn’t happy. I didn't even know my husband.
After five months of marriage, I got pregnant. I was happy to be expecting a child and my husband was happy too. I didn't know about the risks of being pregnant being as young as I was. I hardly talked to anyone; I just stayed at home.
My delivery was very difficult. It was ten o'clock at night when my water broke. The village Daayi (a traditional midwife) came but she couldn’t get my baby to come out. Then they took me to the local health facility but they couldn’t help me, either. So they transferred me to the town hospital.
After nearly 28 hours of labour, I was in so much pain. Even the baby’s hair was pulled out as they forced the delivery, but still it was impossible. Finally they delivered my baby but he’d already died.
I was sent home with a catheter, so I had to come back and change it every ten days. But I wasn’t getting any better. So one day I broke down and cried. That’s when my neighbour asked what’s wrong with me. I shared my story with her and she told me that I could get treated for my condition. That’s when my husband brought me here, to the Fistula Rehabilitation Center.
Now, I'm waiting for an operation. After my surgery, I want to learn how to tailor so I can make some money. But I also need to get pregnant. My husband is still with me but he's not very supportive about my injuries. He blames me and asks me why I have this condition when other women don’t. This is why I need to recover. If I don’t have another child, my husband will leave me. Who will take care of me then?
I pray that I will recover completely.
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.