Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Born into poverty

Update : 06 May 2014, 06:31 PM

Nasrin is from the tiny village of Rampal, Bagerhat and she got married during her early adolescent days. When she became pregnant, her husband sent her to her father’s house. In the beginning of her pregnancy, her husband paid visit on several occasions but after a few months, he reduced the frequency of visits. Finally, he stopped all communication with his wife.

She was hardly 13 when she got married. A recent survey conducted by ICDDR,B reveals a correlation between location (urban/rural) and awareness of legal age limits of marriage: 55% of interrogated women in urban areas were aware of the legal age of marriage against 45% in rural areas. Nasrin happens to be an easy victim of child marriage as she and her guardians lack awareness on the legal age limit of marriage.

The baby, Abdullah, was born on January 26, 2014. He was very weak and struggled to survive. He had pneumonia and started suffering from breathing problems. However, his mother was helpless and his grandparents didn’t care much about his survival. Nasrin’s parents were more anxious about the future of their daughter and considered the child as a burden. Birth of a child is hardly celebrated in an extremely poor household, and in this context, Abdullah was born in a time when his father put an end to any contact with his mother.

Abdullah soon caught a cold, and the situation worsened quickly as he had tremendous difficulty in breathing. However, her father struggled to manage essential costs, and to arrange food for all family members. Therefore, Nasrin managed to get some basic medicine from a local pharmacist. But, the medicine didn’t improve Abdullah’s condition that much.

Abdullah’s story and his condition caught the attention of a visitor from the Shiree (Stimulating Household Improvements Resulting in Economic Empowerment) programme; they had come to validate extreme poor households in Rampal under the district of Bagerhat. The Economic Empowerment of the Poorest (EEP) project of Shiree aims to support the government of Bangladesh in achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1, which is seeks to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.

Save the Children, through its partner organisation CODEC, has been implementing Shiree in Bagerhat. Observing the deteriorating condition of Abdullah, the visiting team suggested immediate hospitalisation that had been done accordingly by the project local team.

Abdullah was admitted in Khulna Shishu Hospital on March 12 to get treatment for pneumonia.  As he was unable to take food and medication orally, he required special supports in the hospital. Slowly, he got better and the doctor finally gave the nod for him to take food and medication orally. However, doctors decided to keep him under intensive care for a few weeks. As his condition improved, he was finally released from the hospital on March 30.

Abdullah’s condition is stable now. However, his mother is worried about his future as his father is unlikely to cooperate with her in raising their child. Nasrin herself only completed her primary education. She has neither been able to continue her education nor develop any expertise due to the early marriage. Therefore, she is dependent on her father who drives a van and whose income declines during the lean periods of the year.

Child marriage is taking its toll on many adolescent girls like Nasrin in Bangladesh. Findings of a national survey conducted by ICDDR,B show that an overwhelming 64% of women between the age of 20 to 24 in Bangladesh were victims of child marriage. When a girl gets married early, she is unlikely to continue her education even though each additional year of schooling beyond primary level offers greater payoffs for improved opportunities, options, and outcomes for the girls and women.

Increased efforts to prevent early marriage to help many adolescent girls like Nasrin are essential.

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