Ety Khatun wins gold medal in archery after avoiding child marriage

The young archer won gold at the South Asian Games in Nepal and is already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics where she could win Bangladesh’s first Olympic medal. Her parents wanted to marry her off when she was 11 but she objected and continued to study.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Ety Khatun, 14, this week won the gold medal in archery in Nepal, at 13th South Asian Games, which closed yesterday.

Only three years ago, her parents wanted to marry her off because they had no more money to raise her, but she resisted to pursue her passion for sport and learning.

The new champion comes from Belgachhi, a small village in Chuadanga, a district in western Bangladesh

Ety’s father is the only bread-winner selling sweets. She didn't want to become a child bride and never stopped hoping for a better future for herself.

Initially, her parents hindered her love for sports. In 2016, “My parents wanted me to get married. I cried a lot and didn't eat for two days. I forced them to send me to Dhaka to take part in an archery training camp,” she said. Last year, she won her first medal, a bronze at a national archery competition.

Smaller in stature than her peers, many underestimated Ety. "Not much was expected from her," said national coach Ziaul Hoque.

At present, with a third gold medal to her credit, she hopes “archery can help me support my family and bring peace to them.”

The young athlete is already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and could be the first Bangladeshi to win a medal at the Olympics.

In the predominantly Muslim country, child marriage is banned but remains widespread, particularly in the countryside and among tribal communities. Many girls end up giving up their childhood early on in their life.

According to Save the Children, in Bangladesh 32.4 per cent of teenage girls (15 to 19) are married off. Of these, 84.4 per cent have children before their 19th birthday. In general, 17.4 per cent of girls drop out of school in the first years of study.

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