Adelah, 50, lives in Herat. She has eleven children.

Herat — I was just twelve years old when my father arranged my marriage and sent me to my mother-in-law’s house. I was too young to even talk with my parents and tell them that I did not want this marriage.

I am uneducated because in our area it was considered very bad for girls to go to school and study. Because of this culture my father did not allow me to go to school. Going to school was considered bad and underage marriage was considered good. Everyone tried to marry their daughters very young.

My family lived in the city, but my husband’s family lived in a far district in a village. Their life was completely different from mine. Their home chores were different and when they asked me to do some work I did not understand what to do so my mother-in-law complained about me to my husband.

She said I was not doing the chores and I was very lazy. So my husband hit me. I was crying and told him that I am not lazy but I don’t know how to do such kinds of works. Please do not hit me. I was hurt, but he did not hear me. For several years his mother complained against me and then he hit me. My husband said to me, “You are my mother’s servant. She should be happy with you.”

When I turned thirteen, my child was born. Big problems began to happen. I was not able to take care of myself, and now I had to take care of a baby. I faced lots of problems and my mother-in-law did not help me. I did not know how to clothe the baby or feed the baby so the baby was crying. I did not know what to do, so I was crying also. I asked my neighbors to help me.

Now I have mental problems and I think all of my sicknesses are because of underage marriage. I was a very young and uneducated mother and my problems in my life started when I was just twelve years old. Until now I don’t remember a single good day or a good memory from my life. Each year I gave birth to a baby. Because of that I became crazy. I did not know what I should do with all of these of children.

Life has been very difficult for me. It is like a jail. Now, I live with my sons. I have never forgiven my parents for doing this to their daughter.

By Adelah as told to Leeda