Women living in the Sutrapur slum of Dhaka, as in much of Bangladesh, face discrimination, injustice, violence and denial of their rights in all areas of their lives. They are often denied the right to earn their own income, they have little or no say in family decisions, and domestic violence is an accepted part of married life. This in turn means they can’t provide for their children or afford to give them an education.
This was the case for 24-year-old mother-of-two, Jhorna, but through support from ActionAid child sponsors, she has been able to turn her life around and can now pay for her daughter to go to school – an amazing example of how child sponsorship doesn’t just benefit one child but supports their whole community. I will leave her to tell you her story.
I had no say in any decisions for our family
"I've lived in the slums of Sutrapur since I was a small child. I was married at 16 and had my first child, my daughter Jui, when I was 17. I also have a son, Jonayet, who is nearly two.
"Being married and being controlled by your husband is what is expected. My husband was in charge and I had no say in any decisions regarding our family. My husband is a tailor and was the only wage earner. I wanted to contribute to the family income but my husband wouldn't allow it.
"This was how my marriage went until last year when I found out from a neighbour that my husband was having an affair with one of his customers. When he realised I knew about the affair he was overbearing and aggressive and when I asked him to end the relationship with that other woman, he beat me. Then in August last year, without a word, he just left and to this day I’ve no idea where he is.
"Being abandoned by my husband left me in a very difficult position; I had no way of supporting my children. Because he would not allow it, I had no skills I could use to get a job. Luckily, my mother lived nearby so my children and I went to live with her, my sister and my brother.
"It was still a struggle to provide enough food for my children, and all their other needs; but at least we were all safe.
ActionAid's Reflect Circle taught me about my rights
"Since 2012, I’ve been a member of an ActionAid Reflect Action Circle that helps support women like me to learn about our rights. We have regular meetings where we discuss how our rights as women are being violated and ways in which we can support each other to realise our rights.
"Happily, thanks to ActionAid and the Reflect Action group, life started to change for the better last year. I took part in a three month long training they provided on dress-making. My mother and my sister gave me a lot of encouragement and looked after my children while I was training.
"After the training, again with the encouragement of my mother and sister and my group, I got a job in a garment factory earning 6,000 Taka (£51) a month. I now have complete control over my income and can provide a better life for my children.
Now I can provide for my children
"We have our own home, it’s only one room, but it’s ours. I can provide better food for my children and I can send my daughter to school, which is very important to me. My husband wouldn’t allow her to go to school but I want her to have the opportunities and choices I never had.
"I continue attending the sessions of the ActionAid Reflect Action Group. Each time, I learn something new and continually broaden my knowledge of women’s rights and the rights of my children. Thank you ActionAid!"
If you already sponsor a child – thank you. It's your support that means we can help women like Jhorna create a better future for herself and her children. Why not share this blog on social media to tell your friends and family about the impact of child sponsorship?
If you aren't yet a child sponsor but have been inspired by Jhorna's story then please consider sponsoring a child with ActionAid. It really does change lives, for good.
Photos: Nazmul Huda/ActionAid