Child marriage is a formal marriage or informal union entered into by an individual before reaching a certain age, specified by some global organizations as high as the age of 18. The legally prescribed marriageable age in some jurisdictions is below 18 years, especially in the case of girls; and even when the age is set at 18 years, many jurisdictions permit earlier marriage with parental consent or in special circumstances, such as teenage pregnancy. In certain countries, even when the legal marriage age is 18, cultural traditions take priority over legislative law. Child marriage affects both boys and girls, though the overwhelming majority of those affected are girls, most of whom are in poor socioeconomic situations. A particular story got to me, a true life story and I felt I should tell her story, @ mother of the groom dresses for fall
,Her name is habiba and she wanted the world to learn from her story and her story goes thus:
I was married at 14. My husband, Sumon, is four years older. Together we have an 8-month-old daughter, Habiba. My husband is a farmer. His family moved here a few years ago, and we live with the rest of his extended family. I didn’t know him before we were married; I had never seen him before.
I enjoyed school, especially maths, which was my favorite subject. But in 8th grade, I was suddenly told by my parents that I had to quit. I had only two years left before I was due to finish – I did not want to leave school! I’d dreamed of becoming a teacher so that I could give others the opportunity to learn.
It was terrible for me to have to sit inside and watch my friends going to school. But I did not complain and did what my parents told me.
I think it was four or five days after I left school that my grandmother told me what really was going on. I was shocked and completely devastated. Marry? Me? But I said nothing to her.
I didn’t meet my husband before the wedding, but they said he was a good man. He had a job and was not one of those men who just hang around and do nothing all day. But knowing this about him did not really make it easier. All I thought about was the freedom that I would lose. Leading up to the wedding, I sat at home and did nothing but cry.
I knew little of what was expected of a bride. Grandma had been married very young, probably much younger than me, so she tried to help. She said I would be responsible for the household, I had to take care of my husband and I had to take care of his family. She also told me a little about what was going to happen on the wedding night.
Six days later I was married. During the ceremony, I washed, dressed and had mint leaves placed in my mouth. The others danced but I just stood there. I was given a bracelet and traditional nose ring. When I was officially a married woman, I cried.
At the wedding, everyone was busy preparing all the food for the big party. It had to be good as it was served the groom's family.
During the party, while the others ate, my husband and I were brought into the house for the official part of the wedding. We sat next to each other on the bed and we were fed with rice and milk. This was the first time I saw him. I looked over at him and wondered if I would live up to his expectations.
We said nothing to each other. The first time we were alone together was the wedding night.
We did what was expected of a newly married Muslim couple. I washed his feet. He made salaam (a traditional religious greeting) and we sat on the bed and said a prayer together. Then I fell asleep.
The next night he had sex with me for the first time. I woke up in the morning and felt absolutely terrible. I took a long shower. I cried while I was thinking about what my life would be now. I mourned for my freedom that was gone and I knew nothing at the time about how to become pregnant. And I knew nothing when a few months later I suddenly missed my period. I told my sister, who sat me down and told me about being pregnant and what that meant. I felt very sick; I was dizzy and threw up all the time. And I could not eat.
Grandma gave me money so I could go to the hospital. There, they said I was three and a half months pregnant.
What if I did not love my child enough? I sought the advice of my sister several times during this period. It was difficult as my thoughts were swirling around.
I had a difficult pregnancy and was sick a lot with a lot of pain. The pain was absolutely terrible, and I spent a fortune on going to the doctor, although I was lucky to even be able to visit a doctor.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, the baby stopped moving. When I had not felt any signs of life in two days, my mother took me to the hospital. There, I got a bit of a shock. It turned out that there was no amniotic fluid left. I was told that if I give birth at home now, neither I nor the child would survive. This was scary for me to hear. The reality was brutal.
I told my husband that both the baby and I could die. He was very worried. He said he would not lose us, so he took me to the hospital. We were told that there was a danger that either just me or only the child would survive. Thoughts raged in my head. There was no point for a child to live without his mother and there was no point for me to live without my baby. That's what I thought. I told the doctor it was best if God took both of us.
Habiba was born by caesarean section at the hospital that day, and thank God, we both survived
I have become accustomed to my new life. I have my duties as a wife and mother. But I worry a lot. I worry about money, my husband, my child and my chores but most of all I worry that my own daughter will also one day be married off early.
I want to spread the message that child marriage must be stopped and tell people about the consequences for young brides. I might have died on the day I gave birth. No one deserves to go through what I experienced. More fathers need to know this so they do not marry off their daughters early.
I dream that one day I can be a respected adult in local society. I hope we do not have to be poor anymore and that we can have a good life. But to complete school? That dream is long gone.
The issues surrounding forced marriage are complex and can’t be eradicated overnight, but with your support, we can work to end the misery of millions of girls across the world.