A Victim of Child Marriage finds "Happily Ever After" in Literacy Programs

Weddings are one of my favorite events. I love watching two people pledge their love for one another and celebrating that marriage with friends and family over dancing, drinks and good food.

I just got back from my cousin’s wedding, which was out of state this past weekend. It was a magical trip and a wonderful ceremony. But as I return to my desk, I can’t help but think of all the people in the world who never experience this kind of a joy over a wedding.

A staged event in Bangladesh showing a child marriage.

The Child Marriage Problem

According to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), one third of all girls in the developing world are married before they become adults. This number jumps to half in Bangladesh, Mali, Mozambique and Niger. (Click here to read what Food for the Hungry is doing to stop child marriage in Bangladesh.)

This is a huge deal and has implications further reaching than the ceremony itself. Teen and child brides are less likely to complete secondary education. Pregnancy is consistently among the leading causes of death for girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide (ICRW). Child brides often face a higher risk of contracting HIV because they often marry an older man with more sexual experience (ICRW). Additionally, girls who marry young are more likely to experience domestic violence, sexual abuse and even post traumatic stress disorder (ICRW).

Parvin Akter experienced many of these things in her life in Bangladesh. As a child, her parents thought arranging a marriage for her would be the best plan for them in their dire financial state. She married and had babies at a very young age, meaning she could not go to school.

Parvin Akter dropped out of school after being forced into a child marriage. Then in January 2016 she was able to attend an FH adult literacy program. Now she knows how to read, write, calculate and sign documents.

The Response

Food for the Hungry (FH) stepped in to change the trajectory of Parvin’s future. A little over a year ago, she began attending an FH literacy program. She learned how to read and write, do basic arithmetic and even how to sign her name for the first time.

Not only does this restore dignity to Parvin, but she can also help her children with their homework, budget the finances for her family and help other women in her community learn literacy skills as well.

“My dream was to be an educated woman,” Parvin said. “FH has given me the opportunity and I am happy that I accepted it. Now I can read, write and calculate. I can understand my children’s lessons and books. My future dream is to increase my knowledge by studying different kinds of books. I want to help others with my knowledge.”

Talk about a happily ever after.

You can help partner with FH to give women like Parvin a second chance at an education and to help prevent child marriage by clicking here.