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2013 VOF Week 3: Motherhood The Beginning Of An End

Growing up, I witnessed a lot of things going on around me. I saw my cousin being married off at the age of 12 and dying during child birth because she went into labour at home and the women around her did not know what to do because they were naïve and waiting for the man to come home and take her to the hospital.

A couple of years later her sister and only daughter left, was also going to be married off but a relative intervened and took her in and put her in school. However, when she was in her third year at school, her mother put pressure on her and she ran away and got married. In her case, thank God she is still alive but she has three children and her husband is taking a second wife who is a bit more educated.

During the cause of events, I had classmates who got pregnant and were asked to leave the school with no story of the girls ever heard of again neither of the person who got them pregnant.Most often our various cultures, religion, and family background stand in the way of our progress thereby affecting our self esteem and future.

However, when the systems which are meant to protect its citizens also gets involved, and then the chances available become very slim. Students get a suspension from schools for burning the school bus or exam malpractice while some one gets thrown out of school because she had a baby. Does that make her an evil or bad person? Does this person deserve a second chance in life or not?

In the long run, most of these girls end up staying at home and getting pregnant again by a second or third and at the end if she is lucky, someone marries her to “save her” if not she lives a life without skills in a struggle to raise a child and may be unable to provide the necessary education which leads to a viscous cycle until a miracle happens and the chain is broken. More also, the society tags girls who get pregnant outside of marriage as an unstable woman. When I say society, I mean all of us because we are part of it and are constantly told not be like those bad girls who sleep around with boys making us constantly condemn. However, most of the time we may not know the true cause is pregnancy might be as a result of rape or poor mentoring.

Furthermore, in most cases the parents of the girls turn their daughter into maids in the house as punishment and feel they should not waste their money sending them back to school again or force her to marry the man who impregnated her which often does not end up well.

These events make me ask the question: what is wrong with the world, girls do not have a chance to progress in life just because of procreation? All these events go down to lack of education not just the basic English and Mathematics in schools but lack of guidance and counseling in schools as well as sex education highlighting the risks women go through from an early stage.

Nevertheless, I have seen one successful story of a girl who started to clean the streets after her parents gave up on her and was able to raise some money taking care of her son in the day time and attending a night school for adults and as a result, completed her secondary education 4 years later.

Therefore, I must say that there is hope even when the situation seems bleak. My goal in this case is to have the system change some of their rules in the long term. First of all, I would like to start by a research organizing coaching sessions to boost the self-esteem of girls in schools and create awareness for the boys and girls on sex education in schools.

I will further do some research on the girls who have been kicked out of school, make their stories heard and start a campaign that will hopefully influence the educational systems change their rules to see the importance of girls remaining in school than out of it.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

William's picture

girls education

Dear Fatima, thank you for your interesting article. You are echoing the obstacles I'm reading about the discrimination toward girls, leading to abuse. I agree that education has to start with adults, parents, about the benefits of keeping girls in school and out of marriage at an early age. There is a cultural bias in your story also, when you mentioned "bad girls." Please keep us all posted at World Pulse when you have established some programs for the education of parents and know some of the results. Good luck in your future work.

William's picture

educating girls

Dear Fatima, thank you for your interesting article. I am reading about many common obstacles in girls attending schools, from around the world. The benefits of keeping girls in school, giving them dreams for their futures and hope as an individual are powerful benefits. Please keep us posted at World Pulse, about the success in programs for parents education and the results. Blessings.

FatimaDamulak's picture

Thank you

Dear William,
Thank you for the support. I must say that I am at the learning process at this point. Therefore, my focus now is to start with the students and schools who can gradually get through to the parents with the help of the Government. It's like forever but I guess it's one step at a time. I could not explain too much due to the limited number of words for the assignment but I will keep the community posted in due course.

Best Regards

Fatima

CMedansky's picture

Strong Voice and Clear Vision

Thank you, Fatima, for your strong voice and clear vision! You highlight an important point that lack of mentoring and encouragement threatens girls’ education as well as young girls dropping out from school to get married and girls who are pregnant being excluded from school. I am very excited by your idea for organizing coaching sessions to mentor and encourage girls to stay in school, and I look forward to hearing more about this from you!

FatimaDamulak's picture

Thanks

Thank You Crystile for the encouraging words. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Fatima

Anna V's picture

Unbalanced consequences

I was struck by the comparisons that you made between suspensions for bus burning or cheating, and expulsion for pregnancy. It seems that those who are alone and pregnant would need more help than simply sending them away from school.

Sex education is a very important tool for curbing the number of early pregnancies. In some areas though, societies are unwilling to accept that education for its youth. I know that some areas here in the US are against sex education in schools, even though it reduces teenage pregnancies. They prefer abstinence only sex education. That can be a touchy subject, especially in very religious communities.

I admire your work for these young women. It sounds like they can use all of the allies they can get.

Good luck with your work!
Anna

edelgros's picture

Fatima, You are so right that

Fatima,

You are so right that sexual education is important and that many of these girls face unwanted pregnancy because of rape or "bad mentoring." Your understanding is deeper than most people's- so many cultures around the world blame young women when they get pregnant and punish them by never giving them the opportunity to get back on track or finish their education. I am willing to bet that the boys who father these children don't get kicked out of school or punished by their parents.

The questions you raise are important ones, especially when you ask why procreating or having sex makes you a "bad" girl and why it's punished the same way as violence or other crimes. This is a question we face worldwide, and it is so sad to see a story like this from so many different places.

Your idea of including sexual education for both boys and girls and raising the self esteem of girls is so insightful! Please keep us posted on the work that you do and these brave women and girls you encounter.

Liz

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