Being Forced to Marry
Note: Forced marriage is against a girls will. It is different to ‘arranged marriage’ where they consent and know it is happening. Usually in forced marriage the girl is often tricked and doesn’t know it is about to happen.
My mother was six years old, when her family came to Australia.
I grew up in Sydney and attended school through to Year 8*. I excelled in my studies: coming first in math and science, and advancing in other classes. My life was fun, I had close friends and enjoyed going to school each day. My goal was to go to university to become a school teacher.
One day my parents told me to take a few weeks off school to help them ‘look after the house’. It was during Year 8 with exams coming up, but I couldn’t say no. Then on one of those days I was introduced to a friend of my dad’s from back home. He had just arrived in Australia, was old and didn’t speak English well. But he told me I was beautiful.
I didn’t feel comfortable around him.
Two weeks later he returned with an offer for my dad. And suddenly I was forced to leave my home with him and to sign marriage paperwork.
I didn’t understand why my parents were allowing this. Why would they force me to marry? But I did not want to disappoint them and I did not want to put them to the police.
Nobody in my school had ever talked about marriage this young, and I did not like this man at all. Also I would miss my friends and going to school.
I endured being raped daily by him. It hurt.
I was never allowed to leave the house except to get supplies. I was expected to clean and look after the family paperwork and garden. My mother visited me once – she told me I had to submit to him and do as I was told, as it was wrong to argue with your husband.
I cried everyday. I felt so alone.
One day I saw airline tickets, one with my name on it.
That day I ran away and went to my school. My teacher found me crying in the bathroom, scared.
My New Freedom
That was three years ago now. Today, I wake up and am so happy to be living out my freedom daily.
My parents disowned me, and that still makes me upset. But through The Freedom Hub I learnt that I am not guilty or ‘deserved’ for any of it to happen. I enjoy my independence and work at a restaurant while I study my bridging course. The Freedom Hub has taught me important skills and helped further my studies and go to university next year, so that I can fulfil my dream of becoming a school teacher. One day, I hope to run my own refuge for women that have been trapped by forced marriage.
Note: if you know someone who has experienced forced marriage, then we invite you and/or that person to participate in an anonymous survey to help with research and more awareness for best practice in solving this problem. Click HERE for a link to the survey.
[*This is an account of one of our survivor’s slavery situation, however some details are changed to protect identity.]
ABOUT 16 DAYS OF FREEDOM
Thank you for your part in this 16 Days of Freedom. We cannot change culture without awareness, so please share this post with your friends. Here are the hashtags for your share: #16daysoffreedom #freedomhuborg #womensrights #orangetheworld
16 Days of Freedom is a campaign we are running to align with the UN awareness campaign United Nations’ UNiTE campaign on gender violence against women and girls. As a result we are focussing on abuse of women and girls through the lens of slavery. So for 16 days we will post a story to highlight the issue. To end the 16days we invite you to come to or host a Festive High Tea for Human Rights. These will be held on or near the UN Human Rights Day on the 10th December.
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