Aged 14, Tamanna is the second child of her family. They live in the district of Satkhira in Bangladesh. When Tamanna was around 18 months old, her mother left the family, and since then, her grandmother and stepmother have been taking care of her.
Her father is a day labourer (this means that he is hired and paid one day at a time, with no promise of more work in the future) and his monthly income is approximately BDT 5000, which is equivalent to 50 euro.
With this income, the family barely manages to get by. Because of this, Tamanna used to do household chores at different houses to supplement the family income and support her father. During the COVID-19 pandemic her school was closed, and so she did this work more often. Specifically, she used to work as a babysitter at a house in her neighbourhood. That family used to give her food and money; the owner of the house was like a father to her and she used to call him “Boro Abba”, which means elder brother or father.
Unfortunately, in May 2021, during Ramadan, this man started sexually abusing her. He took advantage of her family’s precarious situation and the fact that she was too scared to say anything. Tamanna’s health consistently deteriorated, until she couldn’t bear it anymore and told her grandmother what was happening. “That family used to give me food and money,” said Tamanna. “I used to do this [babysit] to supplement my family. Taking this advantage, a person sexually abuses me. I could not believe a person of my father’s age could do so.”
After the truth came out, Tamanna was brutally beaten by the perpetrator’s wife, who also threatened that she would be abducted and executed if she disclosed the truth further. Fortunately, after this physical attack, Tamanna was rescued and taken to the Satkhira Government Hospital with the support of her family. Her father filed a complaint at the Satkhira Police Station, and he had to sell their only domesticated cow to be able to bear the expenses. Regrettably, the abuser is still free and spreading false rumours about Tamanna.
The situation led to people harassing the family. In the meantime, Tamanna was terrified that she would be abducted, and her father was constantly worried about her. Because of this, he was considering selling the house and moving somewhere else.
Luckily, on 8 November 2021, a social worker from the Agrogoti Sangstha found out about the situation. After that, some social workers went to Tamanna’s house to talk with her and her family. They provided them with psychosocial support, and in addition, on 17 January 2022, Agrogoti Sangstha gave them a sewing machine so that they could supplement their income in a different way. Thankfully, Tamanna is actually very familiar with the design of “nakshi katha” – a type of embroidered quilt which is a centuries-old Bengali art tradition. With this, she can cover her educational expenses and stay in school.
Agrogoti Sangstha also connected the family with the District Social Welfare Officer in case they need further support, and Tamanna’s father is trying to stay in touch with them. Moreover, the social workers visited Karima Secondary School and provided a recommendation letter for Tamanna, so that she could enrol in class 6, while also convincing the Headteacher to cover the expenses related to Tamanna’s examination fee.
Agrogoti Sangstha and the Child Rights Defender’s Forum still follow up with Tamanna’s family regularly. She is currently attending school in person and doing a lot better. She often attends a sports learning centre, and after class she plays with her classmates and friends. With the sewing machine she is able to make handicrafts (specifically the previously mentioned “nakshi katha”) and sell them to her neighbours. The people in her neighbourhood do not disrespect her anymore, and she is a confident girl with a clear vision of her own.
“Agrogoti Sangstha provided me with a sewing machine to supplement my family income,” said Tamanna. “Following my abuse and exploitation, my family wanted to leave the village and re-settle somewhere else. However, due to support from TdH NL and its partner organisation, our family bounced back. I want to be well established in my life, I want to study regularly and support my father.”