Beezly is just 13 – an age when most Australian girls are starting high school and becoming obsessed with music, fashion and movie stars.
Instead Beezly, who lives in a village in Bangladesh, is preparing to get married. Her parents have arranged a wedding with a 25-year-old man, despite her dream of one day becoming a doctor.
Disturbing footage of Beezly’s wedding ceremony – which culminates in the young girl throwing herself at her father’s feet wailing and sobbing – is to be shown in an SBS documentary Married At Thirteen on Tuesday night.
Journalist Tania Rashid attended Beezly’s wedding and says it was heartbreaking to witness a young girl "being sold like cattle”.
In Bangladesh it is illegal to marry before 18. Yet in reality nearly a third of girls are married by the time they’re 15. “The whole concept is: the younger the better, as younger is ‘fresher’,” says Rashid.
The New York-based journalist, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, once had her own brush with forced marriage; at 16, her family tried to marry her to a man in his 40s. Fortunately, she was able to resist.
Rashid says many Westerners believe underage marriage is the preserve of poor villagers, whereas the truth is that forced, underage marriage is an ancient tradition that is threaded through all socio-economic layers of Bangladesh society.
See Tania’s full story, Married at 13, on SBS Dateline on Tuesday at 9.30pm.