‘If I were educated, my husband would not have left me’

Since childhood, Mahi dreamed of being an actress. But by 11, over her vehement objections, she was betrothed to someone she had never met. Six months after the marriage, she signed for a loan to help her husband start a business — a plan she says was just a ruse for him to leave her. Now divorced, she regrets not being able to finish school. She wonders, “What am I going to do with my life? Will my dream ever come true?”


My name is Mahi. When I was 11 years old, my parents chose a man for me to marry. But they didn’t check if he was a good man or a bad man. They only asked a few people about him. They thought he had wealth.

As my parents and elders decided to arrange the marriage, I didn’t know any details.

I begged my mother, ‘I want to continue my studies. I don’t want to get married.’

I also told my sister and her husband the same thing.

But they told me, ‘We are poor. At least you can get married now. If you continue to study, will you be able to get a good job? What will you be able to do with your life?’

So, they said, ‘Get married, have a family, and live with your husband.’

Even after telling everyone my objections, I still had to get married to this man. That’s why I agreed to get married.

I saw my husband after the wedding. I never saw him before.

Five or six months after our wedding, my husband said to me, ‘Mahi, I would like to start a tea stall. I need you to get me 20,000 taka.’

I thought, ‘He is my husband. How can I not trust him?’

I didn’t realize that the tea stall wasn’t his real plan, which was to abandon me.

I signed for a loan of 20,000 taka, with interest, for his business.

After a few months, he sent me divorce papers. I had hoped he would come back, but he divorced me and married someone else.

What am I going to do with my life?

Wherever I go, if it’s the garment factory or somewhere else, the boss is going to say, ‘Will you have sex with me?’

Even when I’m walking on the street at night, rude boys will say, ‘Come with me, come with me. I’ll give 100 or 200 taka.’ What can I do?”

If I apply for a job as a housemaid, they send me away saying, ‘We can’t hire a pretty young girl.’

I am poor. Is it a crime to be born poor? We don’t have a place. Anywhere.

Now, I think if I had only continued my studies, I would not have to experience so much harassment from other people now. I could have found a good job.

I’m illiterate. Forget about studying. My husband lied to me, then left me. If I were educated, my husband would not have left me.

If I could have finished school, then I wouldn’t have had to go through all of this.

Just because of my parents’ mistake, because I got married, this is why my life is like this.

So, I’m going to tell everyone, ‘Parents, don’t marry your daughters off at a young age and ruin their lives.’

Since my childhood, I’ve had a dream to be a lead actress in a play or movie. Will my dream ever come true? Will anyone help me realize my dream?

A version of this video originally appeared on Facebook.

What the community says

বোন তোমার জিবন থেকে অনেক শেখার রয়েছে বর্তমান সমাজের জন্য আল্লাহ পাক তোমার আশা পুরণ করুক (আমিন)।

TRANSLATION: Society can learn much about your life. God bless you (Ameen).

Abdul Majid

Very pathetic. Let be careful all of the parents.

TRANSLATION: Very pathetic. Let be careful all of the parents.

Mshafi Uddin

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Global perspective

Percentage of women married before 18
10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Show map

United States


The number of children married per 1,000, ages 15-17 years old

(That's about .6%
of 15- to 17-year-olds .)

The term ‘child marriage’ refers to formal marriages and informal unions in which a girl or boy under age 18 lives with a partner as if married. In an informal union, a couple lacks a formal civil or religious ceremony. Our graphic is based on United Nations information. The main sources are national census and household surveys, including the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). Surveys are subject to sampling and measurement error. We used the U.N. child marriage and population figures to approximate how many women in each country were married before 15 and before 18.

Source: “Child Marriage Database”. UNICEF (March 2018)

“World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017)