Married off at 15 years in 2011, Melody Gatakata is one of the many girls in our communities enduring the pains of child marriage. This is her lived reality and that of many other girls across the country who are married off at an early age. But how can one call a 15-year-old, WIFE?
Majority of girls are forced into child marriages by their parents/guardians either for social, religious, and/or economic reasons. For Melody, her ‘gambler’ father gave her in marriage to pay off accrued debts from his drinking escapades. She was unable to defend herself from the constant pressure from her family.
And at only 15 years, she experienced multiple losses at an immature age. She became a child bride, was forced to drop out of school and lost her 2-day-old child. Not too long after, at 16 she was already pregnant with another child, and now has 2 boys. Both children suffer from muscular dystrophy (they cannot sit or walk and do not have coordination). Child marriage did not only affect her overall well–being and quality of life, but also that of her children.
I wish I could also speak in English, but I did not get a chance to finish school. My wish now is for my kids to go to school and have a better future. I carry my children to school daily, one on my back, and push the one in a wheelchair. I am doing this to let my children have an education and can in turn take care of me.” – said Melody.
This is her lived reality! By sharing her story, Melody hopes to open the lid on the harsh realities and pain of child marriages and encourage parents to prioritize giving their girls a chance to attain a brighter future instead of marrying them off.
Melody Gatakata is actively advocating against child marriages in the “Give Me A Chance” campaign. The campaign is being implemented by Population Solutions for Health through Population Services International and funded by the Swedish Embassy.