Bangladesh: Girl gets her life back thanks to safety net
This month our country of focus is Bangladesh, where World Vision’s Strong Women, Strong World initiative focuses on child protection. Bangladesh has one of the world’s highest rates of early marriage. According to UNICEF, 66 percent of Bangladeshi girls marry before the age of 18. World Vision is working to protect children in Bangladesh and help victims of exploitation recover.
Mily is 14 years old and the eldest of four children. She was married at age 12 to a man 23 years older, treated as a slave and raped repeatedly.
After Mily was rescued from the marriage, World Vision helped her enroll in a local high school, purchasing necessary such as a school bag, school dress, and shoes. She also was taken to a clinic for tests related to pregnancy, HIV and AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.
Now, thanks to the contributions from Strong Women, Strong World donors, Mily is in good health and is doing well in school. She looks to the future with hope. In her most recent school examinations, she completed all of the subjects. “I want to continue my studies and pass the secondary school level,” said Mily. “After completing my studies, I want to serve the community through a social development organization.”
Memories linger, though, from her earlier life. She had left her home with a man named Sha who was working in a coconut-fiber processing workshop next door. Sha was married with two children. He promised Mily a better job in a garment factory with a handsome income. Sha took Mily to several different places and raped her regularly. To avoid questions and escape legal punishment, Sha arranged a phony marriage with Mily without following any legal procedures.
Sha planned to sell her to a brothel in India with the help of a trafficking gang. Mily’s mother, with the support of a local community member associated with World Vision’s area development program and along with some influential local leaders, traced Sha’s location and caught up with them. Police arrested Sha and sent him to court for prosecution. The court, however, granted bail, and he fled. Sha’s relatives offered money to Mily’s mother to withdraw charges, but she refused. Mily’s parents want Sha punished.
Currently, only Mily and a brother are living with their parents; her other siblings are married. Mily’s father runs a small roadside tea shop and earns 150 to 200 taka ($1.82 to $2.43) daily. Her brother works in a fish market and earns a little. Her mother has two cows and several ducks and chicken. But best of all, Mily has her life back.