Mary was 12 when she got married and by the time she turned 13, she was already a mother.
Mary, which is not her real name, said she thought she needed to go to the toilet when in reality she was giving birth.
The poor girl is a Sarawak native from the Penan tribe in Malaysia, where child marriages are still common.
Mary is now 14 years old, but when she was just 12, she got married to a 16-year-old boy.
Peter, who was visiting their village from another village, said he liked Mary after he saw her for the first time.
During an interview with the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, Peter said:
I thought: ‘Wow, she is beautiful’. When I went home I could not stop thinking of her.
The 2 dated for 5 months before Peter proposed to her.
Yep, at that young age.
Mary initially refused because she wanted to stay at school where her favorite subjects were maths, science, and English.
Mary said she once hoped to become a teacher.
I wanted to study further and not marry, but my husband got angry. He asked: ‘Why? Because our parents already know that we are together, and to them we are already considered married’.
Mary felt pressured to say yes, so they did get married.
When asked if she was upset over the fact that she got married at a young age, she said:
To us, marriages are good. It’s our belief that it’s God’s will, to fall in love and get married. And so be it.
3 months after they got married, Mary got pregnant.
In July 2019, she went into labor while she was resting at their house. She had no idea what was happening to her.
I was surprised. I felt like I was going for a number two, but when I went to the toilet and felt pain in my back, I realised I was actually ready to give birth.
The father of Mary, her sister, Peter, and his grandmother got into the car and set off to the hospital, which was around 270 kilometers away from their house.
It took them 6 hours to reach there, however, Mary gave birth in the car.
The grandmother of Mary cut the umbilical cord with a pair of scissors.
Recalling what giving birth felt like Mary said:
Everything felt like a blur. I felt very happy that I had a baby, and, after giving birth, I just felt relieved that the pain was over.
The Penan tribe believes that childbearing is a blessing, even if the couple is very young.
Mary was completely unaware of the risks of teenage pregnancy and only learned that it was dangerous when she went to the doctor for her antenatal check-up.
The son was only 1 month old when he was adopted by the cousin of Mary, who had been trying to conceive without any luck.
The cousin of Mary lives next to their house.
Mary wants to go back to school, however, it is a matter that is not in her hands.
I want to, but it’s up to my husband as well. I’m not sure. Because even if I want to, my husband may not.
The couple wants to have more children, however, Mary is now on oral contraception after doctors told her that she needs to turn 18 so they could have another baby.