Determined to finish her education, she enlisted the support of a local ‘adolescent club’, a group of youth activists who have been organising for greater government accountability and an end to child marriage. All Shampa had to do was say the word and the group sprang into action, arriving at her parents’ doorstep to discuss the risks of early marriage.
They explained that early pregnancy is associated with higher mortality rates for both mother and baby, that Shampa would be forced to spend her days doing household chores and that she would not be able to complete her education. They argued that if Shampa were to finish school, she would be in a better position to earn and to support the family in the future.
Finally – and this is what Shampa suspects did the trick – they reminded her parents that marriage before 18 is illegal in Bangladesh and that this law is enforced.
“In the end, her aunt’s scheme did not
come to pass. Still, the experience
rattled Shampa. “Even now”, she says,
“when I recall those days, I get scared.”
The risk of child marriage has still not completely passed for Shampa. Her parents have committed to supporting her through the end of the school year so that she can get her secondary school certificate. After then, she doesn’t know what the future holds.