Story 16: 16 Days, 16 Stories
TW Warning: These stories contain detailed descriptions of abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, physical violence and other forms of harassment and discrimination which may be triggering.
I thought in Islam we should only put our faith in Allah, we should trust in Allah to remove hardship and grant ease and that everything happens by the will of Allah. This is what I believed until I saw the lengths my family went to control my life. Their actions were so unbelievable, that I often wondered, if I screamed and cried for help, would anyone even believe me?
My parents were very strict, a typical “Indian” family. As a girl, there was little I could do on my own and decisions were made by parents. Growing up, I accepted every decision my parents made for me, I never argued or objected.
However, there was one decision I wanted to make for myself, and that was who I wanted to marry. Needless to say, my parents did not support my choice. To them, my ability to “choose” my spouse was not my choice to begin with.
Without meeting or getting to know him, they simply said no- it didn’t matter that he was Muslim and had a good job where he could support and provide a loving home for me. Their anger that I would choose someone of my own and appeal for their blessing to get married was enough for them to tighten their grip on my life. The more I insisted that this was who I wanted to marry, the greater the lengths they went to change my mind and get me to comply with what they wanted.
They would take away my personal belongings, like my phone, clothes, even personal hygiene products, sanitary napkins and medication- anything I needed. I was not allowed to sleep on my own, or use the bathroom with the door closed. Some days, they tied me up and left me locked in my room. If they had to go out, they would lock all the doors and windows, leaving me with no keys. I would swelter in the heat and pray that nothing happened to me or Allah forbid the house- as there was no way out for me.
I would pray that Allah eased and guided me. Somedays, I thought, I should just give in to what my parents wanted… but then the thought of spending my life with someone who I did not want to marry would tear me apart.
They would bring family members and close family friends to “speak to me”, some would be so harsh that they would call me a “slut” and that I was deserving of “Jahannam” (hell) for objecting to my parents.
One day, things turned very dark. I was brought out of my room and there was a Maulana sitting there. They told me I had “shaitaan” (possessed by a spirit, devil) in me and someone had placed a “jaadu” (witchcraft) on me and the Maulana was there to “help” me. I was told to follow his instructions and he would be putting a “Taweez” on me. If I did not do as he said my life would be filled with despair. The Maulana gave my parents things to read over me, and liquids for me to drink. The Maulana said he needed to see me privately. I refused but the more I refused, the louder the shouting and scolding became. It was unbearable as they tried to force me to do as the Maulana said. The more I resisted the harsher they were. There was no one to turn to for help, no door to escape from. They told me the Maulana did this for other girls and it helped them, so let him “help me”.
Years on, I am still traumatized by all I have been through. There is no winning for us girls, no happy space, no choices. We either comply and be unhappy or be cursed by our parents for eternity.
If you or someone you know is being abused and needs help, please contact BAML’s Hotline at 284-2613 or 257-5582. WhatsApp Messages are also accepted. This is a free, highly confidential service.