Mornings are the worst. Nadira, a selfemployed teacher, wakes up alone in bed in her shabby hut. She has long long holidays since the lockdown in March 2020.
Sometimes, she finds it hard to summon the motivation to get out of the hut. “It sounds empty,” Nadira says, “but I’ll lie there, thinking: ‘What’s the point of getting up?’” She goes over the arithmetic that has tortured her half an era long. She will be 31 next month, married, no chance to meet her husband to live with except her child with intellectual disability.
Nadira is one of few educated women in her village Kalimakhali, a remotest area of Assasuni upazila under Satkhira district. This village is far from the dazzling development of Dhaka city. She completed her graduation from a religious school in 2015. Mr. Asadul Hoque, 57, father of Nadira has been teaching for the last 25 years in the same religious school.
She taught nearly 500 children in her last 6 years of informal career. Among the students, 80% were female where she observed series of child marriage which is common but you would find opposite statistics if you visit Sreeula union. Because, officially the union was declared the child marriage free status! She has continued her private tuition in her house before tying knot with Mr. Ilias Hossain from Nangolbaria villages of the same union in March 2014. The couple has a boy of 6 years old. Mr. Hossain has completed class 12 education and prefers to have a job in school.
Nadira’s family came to know of his interest one year after marriage when he demanded the job as a dowry. Managing a job for the son in law was not possible for Mr. Hoque. As an alternative Ilias asked for 30 bigha land for shrimp farming which was also impossible even if she sold all the assets of her father. As a result, he tortured, forced her to leave and stopped supporting for the last 2 years. According to the Violence Against Women (VAW) Survey 2011, conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), 87 percent of married women in the country are abused by their husbands.
She returned to her father's house with her child, but her older brother would not let her stay. Here is another man! Often, our society does not have a place for girls in the father's house after such a marriage. She started living separately in a poor shabby house close to her family with her father’s assistance. She restarted her old fashioned profession of teaching again and earned around $14 or BDT 1,200/- in each month. As Covid swept the country in March, schools hastily closed; and students stopped coming to study! “I do not know when the students will come to study again?” She said “I have no choice but to look to my father's help!”
She lost her shabby house on May 22, 2020 when super cyclone Amphan hit. The cyclone left a trail of destruction in the Southern regions of Bangladesh, with loss of agricultural lands, aquatic life and houses of locals, washed and blew away embankments, roads.
The tidal surge protection embankment was washed away at many points causing huge flooding to places in Assasuni upazila. Many inhabitants were remaining in the open literally submerged in flood water, many of them passed days without proper meals and
accommodation. During this hard time, she lived in her brother’s hut for several months.
“The cursed dowry of our society has stopped the course of my life, Corona has come and taken away my last hope of earning and Amphan has snatched my shelter and left me in the rubble.
Why is this happening to me all the time? Who will answer?” Nadira replied with tearing eyes! Muslim Aid-UK Bangladesh Field Office has responded immediately after the cyclone hit in Sathkhira with its own fund.
With the implementing partner NGF, Muslim Aid supported the community to repair broken dam, Covid-19 advisory, cash for work under “Cyclone Amphan Resilient Shelter and WASH” project. The project reached the most vulnerable 47 families and supported the construction of new shelters with wash facilities. Nadira is one of the 47 families who got the house and are very happy.
“I guessyou’ve got the hope that the future is not confirmed yet, you don’t know howlong it’s going to last – but that’s also what’s confusing about it all. It’sthe knowledge that I’m losing my
goldenyears.” She said, "I wish I could start teaching in my new house!"