A Life of My Own - A Story of Rupa
‘I want to make a life of my own, without any violence, and to be able to depend on myself to continue my education.’
Rupa shares how she escaped from an abusive forced marriage – and how EYW helped her to make a fresh start.
I am a woman who lives in a small village in Bangladesh and became a survivor of violence. I live with my family, as the youngest of three children. My father works as a laborer and my mother stays at home as a housewife. My elder sister is married, and my brother works at a private company in Dhaka. I am currently a third-year student at Batiaghata College.
After I completed my Higher Secondary Certificate my father was ill, so I had to work in a health clinic. I used the salary to support my education as well as my family. My uncle also provided me with a little support. But this is only the start of my story.
The call that changed Rupa’s life
One day at the office I suddenly got a phone call from my brother and was asked to come home immediately. When I got home, I found I was being set up by my family to have an arranged marriage, and I was forced to face the groom’s family. I begged my brother and uncle not to give me this kind of marriage. I said: “You do not bear the expense of my education and others things. Just allow me to stay here and that is enough for me, but please don’t give me marriage right now.”
But they didn’t listen to my voice and forced me to marry. My brother told me that the marriage had been arranged by my uncle, who gave our family a lot of support. If I rejected the marriage, he would not provide any support for my family again. I talked to my friends about this, and they suggested I run away from home, but I wouldn’t have had anything to support myself.
In the end, I consented to the marriage, with one condition – that I could continue my job after the wedding, so I could still support my family. Both families agreed with the condition, and I married the same month. However, my story did not stop there. On the night of the wedding, I discovered that my husband has a mental disorder, which made him abuse me physically and sexually.
I shared my experience with my family and told them that I didn’t want to continue my marriage. I was shocked by their responses. They said that I had to stay in the marriage and if the situation didn’t change they would take me back home. But I wanted to stop the marriage, and finally, I did. My family was not happy and did not accept my decision. Also, my husband kept disturbing me at my workplace. Eventually, I moved to Chattagram, another city far from my home. Here I got work at a diagnostic clinic. After just three months of marriage, I divorced my husband.
‘I learned to live a new life’
I always think that if I were a boy, things would be so different. Boys do not often have to surrender their life to others, and they have many opportunities to live independently.
Because I had to do an exam back in my hometown, I had to leave my job in Chattagram. This is when I started my journey with the EYW project as a youth member, and as a member of the district and national Youth Advisory Board. After getting attached to the EYW project, I felt strong enough to deal with any challenges and learned to live a new life. I am now continuing my studies, and my dream is to help other girls not to rely on the fates that sometimes are determined by the social norms, but instead to find a new way to live a better life.