Size: 34” x 32”
Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas
Materials used: Silk cloth, fevicol glue, acrylic paint, spray paint
Date: 30 December 2020
How many Nurnahars will we lose in the 21st Century?
Nurnahar was a 14-year-old eighth grader. A child bride in 2020. Her poverty-stricken parents married her off to Rajib Khan, a man 20 years her senior. Rajib Khan lived in the UAE, this tempted Nurnahar’s family to willingly handed away their daughter to a man who caused her death. He failed to get her medical help even after she complained about excessive bleeding from her genitals after Rajib consummated their “marriage.” Her “husband” (unregistered marriage because she was underage), Rajib reportedly continued sexual activity, disregarding her need for immediate medical attention. Instead of taking her to a hospital or even a doctor, Rajib Khan consulted a witch doctor/kobiraj. Nurnahar passed away 34 days after her marriage after Rajib abandoned her at the hospital.
I painted Nurnahar because:
1. My grandmothers were child brides. In this century, can we end this cycle of marrying our daughters off to lighten our burden?
2. Why become parents if one day you want to get rid of your daughter?
3. Some may argue that maybe this is best for some underage girls because of their situation (victims of abuse at home or child rape pregnancy and being married off to the abuser). Children should be allowed to be children. Imagine Nurnahar’s “Bashor Raat” – she must have been terrified. And this is all she experienced as love, marriage and sex.
3. It is so disturbing that Rajib Khan kept sex with her while she was dying, complaining of bleeding, of pain, of not being able to breathe. How cruel is he? How unkind? Even if you try to think of it from a cultural standpoint and have compassion for him, you can’t deny that this person will harm more women. He will be getting married again and continuing his perverted activities.
4. Nurnahar’s death has pointed to the loopholes in Bangladeshi law that excludes marital rape. 5. As we can see in this case, their marriage was unregistered. This is proof that the legal systems in place are working. However, this so-called marriage happened under a religion. This has to be addressed. Responsible religious people have to start talking about and openly discourage child marriages in their communities.