1Nuri 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.