Saira, South Punjab
Saira is a fifteen-year-old girl who belongs to a very poor and religious family in District Muzaffargarh, South Punjab. In her hometown, girls are often married before they reach their sixteenth birthday as many people in her community view child marriage as a way out of poverty and insecurity.
She has four sisters, who were all victims of early marriages, and four brothers. Saira knew that she too, would one day have the same fate as her sisters.
Her parents were planning to marry her off to a thirty-five-year-old man. She was devastated upon finding out because she wanted to continue her schooling as she knew she would be expected to give it up and concentrate on her domestic household life instead.
Bedari is responsible for spreading awareness in the community, on early/child marriages and its impacts on the lives of young girls & boys and their families by establishing Child Marriage Protection Committees (CPC) and Peer Educators.
Saira was aware of the consequences of being a child bride because she had seen her sisters suffer many problems because of their early marriages. They not only had problems with the responsibilities bestowed upon them at a young age but with their health as well. Saira was terrified of bearing such a huge responsibility.
She was a passionate girl who wanted to explore new ideas and the world. She came to one of Bedari’s CPC member, Ms Maqsooda Mai, for help. She asked her if she could convince her family to delay the marriage for a few years. A team set out to Saira’s house and they discussed, with her family, the bitter reality girls face when they are married at a very young age.
Saira’s family, are now aware about various health problems that result from being a child bride and the importance of education. Her mother broke down crying when she realized the difficulties her young married daughters dealt with. She admitted that her elder daughters’ lives were miserable. That they were too young to bear the responsibities of a married life and now, she does not want the same for Saira.
Her family promised to delay the marriage for four to five years, until Saira completes her education.