A Teen Girl From Bangladesh Shares Her Harrowing Experience Being Forced Into An Early Marriage

By Melissa Delgado

Samudra’s Story (TW: rape, abuse)

It’s raining again. It is always raining, but by now we are used to it. The smell of wet earth invades my nostrils I blink awake, trying to open more than one eye and look outside. The tempest clouds cover most of the sky. It is the rainy season and that means there will be flooding. In my sleepy stupor I think about the rains and what that will mean for us. I worry about if there will be floods again. Last time they left so many without a place to live. I wonder who will lose their house this time.

My name is Samudra. I am 15 years old and this is my story. I come from a small village outside of Siraijganj, in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a colorful country that has richness all around and also one of the highest rates of child marriage. My mother had me when she was 15, that is the way we live and the customs of our people. Sometimes I think about why I have to follow what was done generations ago.

I remember the time leading up to my wedding day. A matchmaker was at my house when I came home after school. The bloods had already come some time before so Ma said it meant I was a woman and could take a husband. I thought they would give me more time. My world came crashing down. They told me I was to marry in one week. One week when everything would change and my new husband would make me live somewhere else. I cried to sleep that night and every night for a long time.

As girls, we always picture our wedding day to be happy, with the most beautiful dress, long sparkly earrings, food, and love. The day of my wedding was not like this. I didn’t know that man that was to become my husband. What if he was mean to me. What would I do? I just knew that I had to be healthy and young to carry many babies. But I didn’t know what that was. It was not openly talked about.

It was not until the day of my wedding that my mother whispered in my ear before I left that it would hurt but to let him do what he wanted to do. The husband knew what he wanted his wife to do. She said to sit warm water with some essential oils afterwards. “After what?” I asked but that message was never completed.

He took me away that night. The wedding night was painful. I have erased as much as I can from nights like that. The uncomfortable touch from my knees to inner thighs, the caress on my cheek, the removal of my clothes. I did not know how to kiss and was silent as my husband moved me where he wanted me to be, stripped me of my clothes, of my dignity. I tried to slow him down, I was not ready nor did I want any of this.

He slapped my face. I could not fight back. He called me unkind things, debasing me into thinking I was worthless. He slept in another room from mine. At least twice a week he would visit me at night. Start with the same, if I said nothing he would let me have a nighttime snack, if I tried to fight back or refuse in any way he would hit me. It got worse over time. I lay silently as he held me down and pushed himself on me repeatedly. It was worse when he drank. I could smell the stank alcohol from his mouth as he tried to shove his tongue inside mine. I could not move.

I learned to paralyze my body and think about something else, anything else with silent tears rolling down my cheek. Every month he would wait to see if I was with child. If my bloods came he would beat me. Each month I saw blood I was angry, angry that I was not with child and cursed my own body. I did not know this was not right under the eyes of the law, Allah, or any reasonable person. I was afraid of my husband and knew I was trapped.

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Child marriage is an internationally recognized violation of human rights. It was not normal for Samudra and girls like her to be married before her 18th birthday. Today there are many organizations teaching girls they have options. Organizations like Girls Not Brides and campaigns set up by UNICEF. Girls, young girls, live like this all over the world every day. Customs like dowry, where the bride’s family pays the grooms, threatened loss of houses from natural disasters, economic security are all driving factors to not only Samudra’s but the 1.2 billion girls out there that got married too young.

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Delgado is currently working on her Masters in Public Health at Emory University focusing on Global Health and planning to certify in Human Rights. 

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