Nuri Begum, a mother of three children, lives in a squalid slum in Sholokbohor which is in ward 14 of Chittagong City Corporation. Originally from Jessore twenty three years ago, Nuri got married to a man in Chittagong at the age of fourteen. Very soon her life turned bitter as wife battering became second nature to her husband. Lonely and a stranger to this new city, Nurjahan had no choice but to tolerate the agony, also for the sake of her children. Besides, in her own words, “a woman’s life is like this. Unhappiness and marriage go hand in hand.”
Raising children in a slum has its disadvantages. Nuri struggled to send both her son and daughter to school. But unfortunately her son got mixed up in politics which drove him away from studies. Nuri tried to stop her son from falling into bad company but her efforts were met with furious reactions from her son. Both the father and the son left her and the slum. Sadly, on insistence from the son, the father remarried and rumor has it that the son is instigating the father to divorce Nuri on the grounds of adultery. Nuri is in despair that her own child for whom she underwent so much hardship turned against her! She feels as if her “love’s labor is lost!”
Without male support, life in the slum is difficult. With no earning, Nuri came face to face with misery with two children. To feed starving mouths she started selling her possessions one by one. Worse still, her landlord threw her out of her lodging in the slum as she was unable to pay the rent. By selling furniture, her last household asset she paid the dues and moved to a smaller place.
Pushed against the wall, Nuri sought help from local government official who then referred her to Bright Bangladesh Forum (a CLS grantee) for legal support. Nuri learnt that her marriage with her husband was difficult to prove as it was not legally registered like many marriages in the slum. With help from elders in the slum BBF pressured Nuri’s husband to cooperate with BBF in producing a proper marriage registration document. Moreover, they involved the community to coerce Nuri’s husband to pay for her maintenance and also upkeep of her children. After this settlement Nuri received some money from her husband but he is yet to become regular in paying for the maintenance of their two children.