I know that government, international bodies and development actors have left no stone unturned to make a solid case to end child marriage. It is established that such marriages are interlinked with economic and social constraints and hit socio-economic health of societies. But to me the families who go through child marriages take the brunt over generations. Here, I am to narrate experience of my own family across generations to lay emphasis on how families suffer and need to get rid of evil practice of child marriage.
My maternal grandmother was married at the age of 12, even though she belonged to a well-off family and was a favorite child of her parents. During a tender age of 12 years, when a child is supposed to be playing with her dolls, my grandmother was burdened with a huge responsibility for which she was not physically, mentally or even emotionally ready at all. Due to younger age, she faced many issues including difficulties to cope with household duties and her relations with her husband became strained.
She was raised in a much pampered environment since birth. It was a grueling experience for her to take orders and get on with instructions of her in-laws on each and every aspect.
My grandfather had also to go through a lot. He was pursuing his matriculation at the age of 17. Marriage brought a sudden increase in his financial duties and he had to give up his lifestyle for behaving more like a family man. He was driven into a situation where he had to manage his family despite that he wasn’t mentally prepared for it.
My mother was married at the age of 17, but both her sisters got married at the age of 25. There is a similarity between my mother and grandmother, they both were out of school at the time of marriage while my aunts were still pursuing education.
During my grandmother’s times, education was not deemed necessary but my mother had to leave her school due to the non-availability of any schools nearby. On the other hand, my aunts were lucky enough to find education right in their locality, so due to continuity education they were grown-ups at the time of marriage.
Luckily, my parents had a very positive impact of this tough legacy. They allowed both of their daughters to study enough so we could make decisions of our lives. My sister graduated from Asian University of Women Bangladesh and no doubt my parents especially my father had to struggle a lot to convince our close relatives on this matter. Our relatives considered it completely unnecessary for a girl to get higher education or to have a professional career. According to my parents, my sister can marry at the right age considering her husband and in-laws as well as children, her career and future. Due to the efforts of our father both of us came up as independent and confident girls making our careers just the way we wanted to be.
Given my personal experience and learning, I consider effort of keeping children in school can ultimately reduce the number of child marriages. Government should make arrangements to provide formal education and efforts should be made to convince parents for keeping children in school at least for their basic education.
I feel I am personally connected to the issue of child marriage and its negative impact on family life. This is why I am volunteering to promote an online petition for a youth development organization Bargad. The petition is pursuing amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) to raise the legal age for marriage for girls to 18 in our country.