Runa Akhter was only 13 year old when her parents forced her to marry a man more than twice her age.
Until then, Runa had dreamt of working as a receptionist. She was in 7th grade, loved reading and sports, and she wanted to wait until she was 21 to get married.
But her parents had other plans.
Her mother, who helped arrange Runa’s marriage to the 29 year old man, believed that it would be harder to marry off Runa when she got older, and that people would ask too many questions if she stayed unmarried.
Her mother also believed that Runa’s marriage would protect her. Rape and sexual harassment are serious problems in Bangladesh, and child marriage is viewed both as a tradition and a way to protect young girls.
Bangladesh has the fourth-highest rate of child marriage worldwide after Niger, the Central African Republic and Chad. Almost a third of the country’s girls marry before they turn 15, and two-thirds will be married before their 18th birthday.
This is despite the fact that the minimum legal age of marriage in Bangladesh is 18 for women and 21 for men.
The consequences of getting married early are dramatic. Most girls drop out of school, and if they get pregnant before they turn 15, they are five times more likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older.
- Pray for girls in Bangladesh, for a change in attitude in society that will see girls as important, of value and to be cherished, not abused.
- Pray for those forced in to marriage at a very young age. Pray for protection, and for them to find life and hope through encounters with Christ Jesus.
- Pray for Christians in Bangladesh to be at the forefront of change in seeing the value of women and girls through God’s eyes, and for their witness to their communities of God’s love and grace.
Luke 12 vs 6 – 7: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”