Laila, not her real name, recounts escaping from her parents, who had arranged for her sister Homa, 16, also not her real name, to marry a much older man against her will
Looking back, life could have been very different for me and my two younger sisters if our schools had taught us about our right not to face “honour” based violence and forced marriage, had understood what we were going through so that they could have properly supported us, and if they’d informed us about help that was available.
I was born in Iran. I felt lucky, as unlike some parents, my mum and dad’s dreams were no less for us because we are girls. They wanted us to attend university and have careers. My dad was politically active and when I was 11, it had become too dangerous for us to live in Iran, so we fled to Cyprus. Soon afterwards my mother was diagnosed with Leukaemia. We were sent to the UK so that she could receive treatment. When I was 12 she passed away.
Everything changed when, within a year, dad remarried. My stepmother, who had been a child bride at 13, had strict ideas about girls and she brainwashed dad. We were forbidden to hang out with friends, she controlled what we wore and all three of us, even Maryam who was only six, had to cook, clean, and look after her two sons and the baby she’d had with dad. She was training us to be good housewives and we lived under constant threat that if we did not behave as expected, we’d be sent to Iran to be married off by our uncles.
Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/laila-survivor-ambassador/honour-violence-and-forced-marriages_b_6040442.html?utm_hp_ref=uk