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Husband divorced, not books- Barred from going to school, 16-year-old walks out of marriage
Moregram (Murshidabad), Dec. 28: A Muslim girl in Murshidabad has divorced her husband because he would not let her go to school.
Sixteen-year-old Bula Khatoon had agreed to get married on the condition that her father would persuade the 24-year-old groom to let her study. He was not so persuaded and she walked out on him.
The Class X girl is back at Moregram High School again, dumping a life only of cooking and chores.
“When I found that my husband was only interested in letting me cook for the family and do the household chores, I revolted. I told him I always wanted to study and would not stop now because of marriage. I was under the impression that my husband had agreed. But he refused to allow me to study. So, I returned home,” said Bula.
In his eagerness to get her married, her father had not even raised her terms with her prospective in-laws.
Nizam Sheikh, a mason who had never been to school, said: “I had assured her that she could continue with her studies in the hope that I would be able to persuade my son-in-law about it.”
“I had also thought that maybe my daughter would give up her wish to study after marriage,” he added.
After her wedding before a qazi — a Muslim marriage registrar — on April 21, Bula had left for her in-laws’ at Nalhati in Birbhum, 20km away.
According to Muslim personal law, a girl can get married after 15.
The man Bula had married, Ejajul Sheikh, ran a mobile repairing shop. He had taken it for granted that she would busy herself in household work after the wedding.
“When I came home with my husband a week after our marriage, I told him I will not return before my Madhyamik exams (in February 2010). My husband wanted to take me back to his house. But I refused. My parents, my elder brother, sister and all our neighbours insisted that I return. But it was my determination to study that kept me back,” the teenager said.
As her husband and in-laws would not relent, Bula went through a mutual divorce in September.
The girl cleared her selection tests for the secondary exams earlier this month.
Bula is Nizam’s third child and already the most educated in the family. Her elder brother Taherul has studied up to Class V and elder sister Rezina till Class VIII. Her younger brothers Zahirul and Jaman are in Class IX and Class V.
Moregram High School headmaster, Ujjal Chowdhury, said Bula was a sincere student. “When she got married, we thought her fate would be the same as many of our students’. But we had a pleasant surprise when she started attending school again after about 10 days,” he said.
“We are trying to encourage her in her studies,” the teacher added.
Bula admitted it had not been easy for her.
Ejajul conceded that he had got married primarily because the family needed someone to cook and do the chores.
“I needed a homemaker, someone who would cook and look after the family as my mother had died about a year ago. But when I saw how resolute she was about her studies, I agreed to a mutual divorce,” he said.
The two of them went for divorce to the same qazi who had got them married five months before. Maulana Qazi Haibotullah said he had conducted at least 60 divorce cases over the years, but not one of them had been because the woman wanted to study.
Nizam said that when he got his daughter married, he had half a wish that her son-in-law would agree to let her study. Now that the marriage has been annulled, he promised he would encourage his daughter to keep studying.