Useaking takes her children to preschool every day.
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Promising a Future
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BEAT THE CLOCK IN BANGLADESH
Lifting the veil off child, early and forced marriage.
In the community of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, 21-year-old Useaking, a mother of two, can pinpoint the event that changed her life forever: getting her period. “I used to have to stay home for days when I had my period,” says Useaking, whose information on menstruation came from myths and taboos. As she fell behind and her schooling slipped away, so did her options.
Words by Jenny Bertrand | Design by Meghan D'Mello
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BEAT THE CLOCK IN BANGLADESH
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She thought marriage would bring her the freedom she craved. Instead, it brought early pregnancy. She had her first child when she was 18 and her second 14 months later.
Useaking Was 17 When She Ran Away and Got Married
At the time, I didn’t know I could use the health services in my area. No one told me about this or was there to guide me.
– Useaking describing a situation that is common in many parts of Bangladesh, where 22% of girls marry before the age of 15
Useaking’s story took an unexpected turn when she discovered a Plan International-run community support group for young married women. Supporters like you have helped 2,100 young women like Useaking participate in these groups.
Among her new friends, Useaking learned about sexual and reproductive health, like menstrual health, sex, contraception and gender-based violence. The more she learned about her rights to choose and be protected, the more confident – and vocal – she became. Useaking began speaking out against child, early and forced marriage, using her life as an example. “I tell girls around me to study or learn a job without getting married at a young age,” she says.
Like you, Useaking wants to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty that perpetuates child, early and forced marriage:
Useaking’s Second Chance
I want my daughter to reach her full potential and enjoy her freedom, to have access to education and the opportunity to pursue her dreams.
A day in Useaking’s life in Cox’s Bazar.
This is one of our first-ever “mini-docs” we created in partnership with Elizabeth D. Costa, an up-and-coming young documentary filmmaker from the community.
Useaking participates in our LEAP (Lifting Healthy, Empowered and Protected Girls and Women in Cox’s Bazar) program, which is in partnership with Global Affairs Canada. We work with teen girls and young women like Useaking who live in host communities and refugee camps like Cox’s Bazar to help them realize and advocate for their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Better access to health information and services helps prevent child, early and forced marriage. Over the next few years, supporters like you will reach nearly 100,000 girls and boys ages 10 to 24 through this program.
How You and Plan International Help
Promising a Future is a biannual newsletter for supporters who have remembered Plan International Canada in their wills or are interested in leaving a legacy gift.
Why promising a future?
Useaking is a mentor in a Plan International-supported young women’s group that discusses health, menstruation and preventing gender-based violence and child, early and forced marriage.