Breaking free of child forced marriage and looking to the future

*name and image changed. Image via iStock

Every year, 23 million girls are married before the age of 18. Many of them had no choice to refuse it. Girls forced to marry commonly have little or no control over their lives within marriage and many suffer abuse. They rarely have a realistic chance to leave their husbands, for example, they may not be able to support themselves financially or may fear repercussions from the wider community and their own families.

Soneeya experienced forced marriage, but now she became a paralegal as part of our project in Nepal to help protect other girls trapped in forced marriages like she was. This is her story.

“When I was 15, my parents and relatives arranged my marriage. They did not ask me if I wanted to get married and I was shocked and terrified. I had never even met the man I was to marry. I did not know what to do.

They introduced me to the him one night, and the next day we got married.

He was 28 – 13 years older than me. They forced the decision on me. It was a forced marriage.

For five days everything was fine. The next night he came home. He tied my arms and legs like an animal. Then he raped me.

After that he used to come home drunk every night, beat me and rape me.

When I got pregnant at 16, I was really scared. There was no one I could talk to. When I informed my husband, I thought he would be happy, but instead he slapped me. ‘I have no job. Why did you get pregnant?’ he said. He threw 3000 rupees at me and told me to get an abortion.

I went to the hospital, but I couldn’t go through with it. When I went home and told my husband, he beat me with a belt until I was rescued by his brother.

After that my husband left.

My son is 11 years old now and I am proud of him. When I used to give him money for snacks, he’d save it for his tuition fees.

Through this paralegal work, I’m very confident now. I’m so happy I brought up my son independently. I’m filing for divorce and I am proud to be able to sign the divorce papers and show my husband what I have become.

I don’t want young girl’s lives to be like mine. I’d advise them not to get married at an early age and regret it later.  I tell them to get an education first. Education is a must.”

*Name and images changed

Nepal Paralegals Project

Read more about the program we support to address child exploitation in Nepal.

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