Nargis*, 15, lives with her son and husband in rural Bangladesh. Her parents did not want her to get married, but could not afford to support her anymore.
“I studied until the eighth grade. I really liked school. I had a dream to study law, but my parents could not afford it,” says Nargis. ”Although I knew the consequences of early marriage, I still ended up getting married at 14 because my parents are extremely poor.
“I didn’t know my husband – even now I don’t know his age. I didn't want to move into his house.”
Data needed on child mothers
It is estimated that Bangladesh has the highest rate of marriages involving girls under 15 in the world. Unicef statistics indicate that 18% of girls in Bangladesh are married before they turn 15. However, there are no reliable figures on the number of girls who give birth before 15.
All my future plans now are for my son
“I didn’t know anything about the human body. I started having my periods only 2 or 3 months before my marriage. At first I didn't want to be a mother but after I got married, people change their mind.”
Teenage pregnancy can have serious health risks as girls’ bodies are not yet ready for childbirth.
“I had complications during labour so I was supposed to have a caesarean section. Because of my very low blood count, they couldn’t do it. I had a normal delivery instead and it was very painful.”
Nargis now works to save money so she will be able to send her son Nayeem* to school. She also has to look after her son and complete household chores meaning she is unable to pursue her ambitions.
“I'm working in a garment factory to save enough money for the future so that my son can get an education and move forward in life. All my future plans now are for my son.”
Nargis’ story is taken from the #childmothers exhibition, which aims to highlight the issue of very early motherhood and ensure very young mothers are represented in statistics and supported in strategies and programmes.
*Names have been changed to protect identities
Photos by Pieter ten Hoopen.