Violence against women is the most pervasive human rights violation that is regularly faced in Bangladesh. Violence against women is caused and is a consequence of inequality and discrimination towards women. The most pervasive form of violence against women in Bangladesh is domestic violence. Nearly 64% of the women face domestic violence by her husband, her in-laws or her own family. And the ultimate result of this domestic violence is divorce. Momina, a mother from Rangpur (a northern district of Bangladesh), came to Sreepur Village with her two children over a year ago. When she was 14 years old her parents organised an arranged marriage for her. In her new family she was the only member to work. Her husband continuously pressurised and tortured her for the dowry; all of this in front of his family. All of a sudden after six months of her marriage her husband died and so she returned to her father’s family.
After a while her parents arranged another marriage to an older man; she was the second wife of this man. During this time Momina gave birth two daughters; her husband was not happy with this as he wanted her to have a boy. As a punishment for only having daughters he regularly physically assaulted her. After six years of this marriage, the ex-wife of her husband returned. Now she was being tortured by both of them: they ran her over with a steamroller and they kept her unfed for two to three days at a time. After two months, her husband eventually divorced her. Helplessly she came back to her father’s family but it’s not easy to stay with two children in a poverty stricken family. Whilst working in neighbour’s house Momina heard about Sreepur Village and came to us.
Since being at Sreepur Momina has begun to work on our tailoring training scheme, this will help her to get a job in a garment factory when she leaves without starting from scratch. And now her two daughters are studying which also gives them a better start in life. Momina has a dream to open a clothing store after leaving Sreepur so that she can be independent for herself and her daughters.
We wish her lots of luck with her dream and know that she will make it come true.
To help Momina and other mothers like her that live in The Sreepur Village – click here to donate or set up a monthly standing order.
Durga arrived at The Sreepur Village with her 3 month old daughter, having spent he adult life working in a a brothel.
She was born on a night of Hindu Celebration, so her parents called her Durga – the Hindu goddess of festivity. Durga never saw or met her parents. She never knew what they looked like or how they acted. Durga’s Aunt and Uncle, who were her local guardians and treated her like a burden. So, at the age of 15 she escaped.
Once Durga had escaped she met a man who promised to help her lead a simple and normal life. She started going to school; others smiled at her but she always had trouble making friends. She knew they were talking about her ‘speech problems’ behind her back and she accepted it; she had never felt normal. After a while the man led her to a place which was far from being normal: a brothel.
In 2015/2016 some local NGOs started to visit the place and they were campaigning for a healthy life amongst prostitutes. Durga was interested and she asked to be given more information. With their help she started planning another escape. This time, Durga ended up in a shelter house. Furthermore, she realised she was pregnant. The shelter house kept her until her baby was born, but gave her no promise to look after her baby once was born. The shelter house contacted the Sreepur Village and Durga became our newest mother. We hope with all our hearts that we can give Durga the gift of a simple life that she always yearned for.
Munni and Rani
Munni and Rani are two sisters who were brought to Shishu Polli Plus by their uncle Md. Abdur Rahim on 12 August 2000 when Munni was 1 and Rani was 2 years old.
Both the sisters were in a vulnerable situation when their mother died and their family was unable to trace the father. Their uncle took care of them, but he was poor and was unable to continue to support these two little girls. As a result he brought them to SPP for long term care.
Later their father came back to the area and he has visited them in Shishu Polli Plus but he refused to take them back to the family as he has married again and the family is very poor. Their father is a rickshaw puller, but is now old and sick and is unable to work every day.
Munni is now 10, studying in class 2, and Rani is 11 and studying in class 4. Rani is doing well but Munni misses her family and is not doing as well in school. When we have our weekly cleaning programme she often comes and helps Pat with whatever cleaning project she is doing and we try to give her that little bit of extra attention she needs. We are also working with the family to see if we can support them sufficiently for the girls to be able to safely return to their village and their family.
Nahid is six years old. He came to the Sreepur Village from Sylhet (East side of Bangladesh) almost 1 year ago. Nahid lost his father when he was only 3 years old, and having nowhere to go in life, his mother decided to come to Sreepur.
According to Nahid he initially struggled to make new friends at Sreepur but now he has settled in and is happy to be here. We asked him what are his favourite things about school: he told us “We are given biscuits which I really like; getting free pen and pencils and if you listen to the teacher they give you a token and you can buy things with that token.”
Sojib is an 11 year old boy who came to live at the Sreepur Village with his mother and three siblings after the death of his father. The family came from the impoverished area of Jamalpur. When he was born he had difficulties with breathing, was often sick with colds and fever, and doctors diagnosed VSD (ventricular septal defect). He was given medicine, but this was not effective.
The Sreepur Village Health clinic arranged various tests and a heart malfunction was confirmed. Last year Sojib had major heart surgery and we are delighted that he recovered well and is now an active and healthy little boy. Sojib and his family will stay with us for 2 more years while his mother learns skills to enable her to support her family back in the community.
Laiyla, a mother of two, came to us from a remote and isolated village in Northern Bangladesh. She was persuaded by her family to marry when she was around 15 years old and, as is standard practice in remote villages, the marriage was not registered.
After 9 years of marriage, Laiyla’s husband died, and she was left with two children to raise. Her husband’s family forced her to labour at the family farm all day in exchange for three meals a day for herself and the two children.
If her marriage had been registered, Laiyla would be entitled to her husband’s ancestral land, but as she has no marriage certificate, she has no widow’s rights.
She never received any money, even if she wished to buy anything for the children. One day she took a few kilos of wheat to sell so that she would have a little money, but the family found out and her brother-in-law beat her and left her injured.
Laiyla went to the village elders for help, but they had been bribed by the family and they ordered her to leave the village. With mounting persecution from the elders and the family, she left the village and went to her father’s house with her two children. Her family were not able to provide for her and she was referred to Shishu Polli Plus.
For the past three years, Laiyla has received training in tailoring and animal husbandry, and she is receiving distance learning as part of our plan to improve numeracy and literacy. Her children attend our school, and next year we will work with the family to resettle them back in the community.
‘’We have discussed her plan; she needs to develop her confidence and now we are working towards that,’’ Shakawat, Livelihood and Rehabilitation Coordinator, Sreepur Village.
Hundreds of thousands of women in remote areas of Bangladesh have the same problem as Laiyla, and we need to help to build awareness in the villages that marriages need to be legally registered and certificates issued to safeguard the rights of women.
Salma, is 16 years’ old. In her own her words ‘I never understood what a childhood was. When I was a child, I wanted to go to school and play with the other kids, but my only option to be free was to get married and go with another person.’ For many girls living in rural Bangladesh it is common practice to marry at 13 or 14 years of age. ‘People are poor and uneducated in my village. Hence they do not know how to live better’ She said.
Salma is the eldest of her siblings. Her mother got married at an early age and things started to turn bad when Salma’s father married another woman. Before coming to Sreepur they lived in a char community on the river delta. Salma’s father left them after his second marriage and they tried to leave the area. But life in the char communities is hard. Almost every year after the rainy season people fight about taking over the new land. ‘We all have seen such violence, and it was normal to us. But now I understand it was not a safe place to live’ Salma told us in a thoughtful voice.
Currently Salma is studying in sixth grade. She is also shining star in the Sreepur women’s Cricket team and right now Salma and her team are preparing for first division cricket league. We are happy that she (and her siblings) had found something which they were missed out in their early life. She is passionate about cricket as well as her studies. I’m very competitive whether it is a school or playground. I do not want to have a life like my mother!
Story of Majeda
In my 26 years of married life, I gave birth to five daughters in hope each time of giving birth to a boy. Every time I gave birth to a girl I would have to suffer negativity, shame and harassment from my husband and his family, being physically abused more times than I can remember because I was yet to bear a son. By the time Monia (my third daughter) was born, everyone living in my father-in-law’s house had taken part in torturing me repeatedly for being unable to provide a son; they saw it fit that I was starved and refused food as punishment. That was only my third daughter; you can imagine the treatment I received when I gave birth for the fourth and fifth time to daughters. More than ten times they drove me out from my father-in-law’s house. But each time I had no place to go and again and again I went back to my husband’s family out of desperation for the safety of my daughters.
I finally gave birth to a son, and what I thought would be the end of mine and my daughters’ suffering. But by the time my son was just three months old, my husband died. The cost to me was huge. All of our possessions and property had to be sold, to cover the cost of my husband’s treatment. All I had left were two cows. I sold them and gave my eldest daughter for marriage, with hope for a better life for her than I could provide. I then had no choice but to live on the streets with my daughters and baby son.
I am now at The Sreepur Village, Bangladesh, living with the charity with my three daughters and son. My children can now go to school; Konika (my second daughter) is preparing for her Junior School Certificate examinations. I’m also being trained in tailoring so that eventually, when I feel ready, I can leave the village and make a good life for me and my children, earning my own income to be free and independent of the abuse and suffering we have experienced for most of our lives before we were taken in by The Sreepur Village. I am happy and I am safe and so are my children.