Frontline Stories

Marriage Later, Studies First

Suborna (standing) works as a trainer of a LSBE volunteer group.

Suborna loves studying. She was the top student in her class but her parents were unimpressed. One day, her father told her (she was only eight) she would be married off to a man who owned a plot of land, and demanded just a small dowry.

Suborna's wish of continuing her education was considered a luxury. Her parents could not afford the expenses and reasoned that marriage was a better option.

"When my father told me I was going to be married off, I felt my life had been ruined. I visualised a life like that of my mother—marriage, lots of children. All dreams shattered," Suborna says.

Determine to complete her education

As the leader of the child forum, Suborna (in red head scarf) and other members work together to campaign against child marriage.

She immediately protested and told her friends at the community's Child Forum about her situation. They intervened and contacted Suborna's parents to explain the legal consequence and other negative impacts of child marriage.

Finally, her parents gave their consent for their daughter to not get married before she turns 18. However, they also stated that they could no longer afford to pay any expenses related to Suborna.

To help her earn money, World Vision helped Suborna complete a Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) course. She got paid monthly working as a facilitator to teach rural households about different social and development issues like women's and children's rights.

Seeds of change

Suborna (standing) works as a trainer of a LSBE volunteer group.

As part of the Child Forum, there are weekly meetings where members get together in a safe place to learn and discuss community matters. They become aware of the links between teenage pregnancy and high rates of infant and maternal mortality, and other adverse health effects of early marriage.

Besides forming child forums and youth groups to advocate against child marriage, World Vision also adopts a community-based strategy involving village leaders, community groups and government departments to reintegrate children into formal school system.

A member of the child forum herself, Suborna has become a household name in her community when it comes to protesting against the menace of underage marriage. She and her child forum friends had also prevented many other underage marriages in her village.

"World Vision has made my parents proud of me. I finally made my father understand that his daughters could be his support in old age. And I succeeded. My youngest two sisters are now also going to school," Suborna says smilingly.

Shahid Fakir, who was once disgusted with his daughter's obstinacy, is a proud father today. "I was going to make a big mistake, but my daughter stopped us in the nick of time," he smiles.

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