201209-BGD-57-lpr

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Child marriage and early motherhood is a prevalent problem in Bangladesh. Girls are betrothed to men they have never met from as early as two years old and, thereafter, get pregnant at the onset of menstruation. There are numerous reasons cited for early marriages, including girls being a financial burden to their (already poor) family; younger girls require a lower dowry payment and marrying to prevent girls from being sexually harassed.

Shefali has been suffering from fistulasince the birth of her first child. It has been a long, painful and shameful five years for her. Fistula occurs as result of birth complications when the unborn baby presses against the birth canal for a prolonged period. This causes the blood flow to be cut and damages the nerves and tissue in the area. This is especially problematic and occurs to young girls because their pelvis and bone structure is not developed enough to support child birth. Shefali feels her body getting weaker and weaker by the day. She is constantly fatigued and has lost interest in the everyday activities. On bad days, she is unable to muster enough strength to move around.

âI just lie down on my bed and watch the activities outside.â