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Rotna (29), Rajshahi

I will never forget that morning. I thought it would be the last morning for my unborn child and me. I was four months pregnant and I started feeling my baby boy’s first movements. My husband tied me up in their yard with a rope, which he used to tie up cows or goats. His two brothers helped him.  All my in-laws was well aware of what was going on outside. My husband beat me with a stick for an hour until I passed out. This had been going on since we got my married. My husband had a relationship with another girl and all he wanted from me was the dowry. I come from a poor family but still my parents managed to give everything at our wedding that normal families give. They gifted my husband with gold, furniture, a bicycle and twenty thousand taka. But just after our wedding he started asking for more money. And then he started beating me now and then. Within one month of our marriage, I became pregnant. When my husband, Milon, found out he tried to kill my child by giving me medicine without me knowing. Still, my child and I survived. I went through such torture that only people have heard about but have never seen. My farmer husband wanted nothing but money. When I told this to my parents, they asked me to have patience and they arranged a meeting with local influential people. But his torture had surpassed all limits by then. When I asked for help from my in-laws they remained silent and kept telling me that I should pay my husband what he was demanding. I was not getting enough food in the early days of my pregnancy. That day, after passing out in their yard, I thought I could die any moment. But a neighbour lady heard my screaming. She and some other people saved my life. They brought a rickshaw van and sent me to my relatives’ house; from there I was moved to Rajshahi Medical College in a One-Stop-Crisis Centre (OCC). I had to go through one month medical treatment. Still I have scars from his torture. Every person in the hospital was shocked to see my situation. I was afraid of filing a police case against my husband, but then I realized; if I go back I will die and that should never happen to any girl. He deserved punishment and no matter how long I have to fight, I will do it. After submitting the case in Mohonpur, they caught my husband and his family in a week. They never thought, I would take such a step, but that was a lesson for the whole area to realize if any man engages in this kind of inhuman treatment with their women, then women will not sit silently. I did not do that only for me, but I wanted to become an example for other women too.

When I moved back to my parental house, my life turned into darkness again. I was not able to manage my child’s expense and my father was helpless to provide me with my necessities. One day, when my child asked to have milk, my uncle told me to start begging. I was so heartbroken and vulnerable. I wanted to do something that could change our lives. I knew boutique work and in an OCC meeting, I asked for help. Knowing about my situation, they provided everything to start my boutique business. I started small but with that, it saved my life. I received beauty parlor training and invested my boutique profit into establishing a beauty parlor. Now I have three girls working under me in my parlor. I earn twenty-five thousand taka each month. My only son Siam is now in class six and I am giving him the best education. Now, all those nightmares are far away and my children’s lives. But sometimes my son asks me, why he cannot call anyone ‘Dad’. I feel so helpless in those moments; with time, I am trying to make him understand that, I am his father and mother. Now that I am capable of earning, I am able to save for my future. My pain and suffering turned into my strength and power. Love for my son helped me to overcome all nightmares. I am looking forward to a happy future and a happy conclusion; there is no place for agony in my life any more.