How Economic Change Transformed Her Marriage
Khotija Akter was only 15 years old when her grandmother arranged her marriage, and she came to the difficult realization that her only role in life was to take care of her husband and perform domestic duties. She soon had five children to feed, and her husband’s income was often not enough for them to eat twice a day.
"This destroyed my family’s peace and every day my husband shouted and tortured me for silly matters, sometimes without any cause,” Khotija said. “I thought that because he was earning the money, he had the right to do what he wanted. He was the supreme authority to take decisions for the family.”
Khotija became used to her husband’s abuse and grew more and more silent. It seemed like there was no way to improve her family’s situation. Then Khotija heard about a self-help group through World Concern. She joined and started saving money every month. In addition, the group talked about various topics like early marriage, savings, family development, personal hygiene, dowry, gender, domestic violence, and trafficking.
When Khatija was able to take a small loan from the group to help her husband, he saw that she was managing their family well and his respect for her grew. With her new knowledge from the group, Khotija saw how women in her society had no value or decision-making power.
"Now I understand that I am also part of the family and have the right to take part in the decision-making process,” she said. “Now my husband involves me in family decisions and maintaining our family. My children also show me respect that they didn’t before.”
As Khotija changed, so did her husband. He said, “Now we run our business equally. My wife taught me about the bad effects of early marriage which we have already faced, so we decided not to marry our other daughters while they are young and instead, we sent them to school. I taught my two young sons to respect and help their mother and women. I want to thank World Concern for their work in our remote village where some of our social norms and patriarchal attitudes are the main obstacles for women and girl’s development.”
When you partner with villages like Harinmara you are changing the lives of women and children, building healthy family structures, and helping the community rise out of poverty.