Whew, so here we go:
I am a survivor of honour abuse.
Only those who have been through it can understand what it’s taken me to write that sentence in public. I’ve been gathering the courage to speak out about my experiences for some time now; a couple of years in fact, and it feels as though everything I’ve done in the last decade has led up to this moment.
I haven’t lived with my parents since I was twelve years old and going through puberty, a scary time for so many young women at risk of forced marriage. I haven’t spoken to either of them for about four years, although as far as I know they are both alive and well. In the coming weeks and months, I will be sharing some of my story with you.
Just yesterday, a member of my family threatened me with legal action if I published anything in the public domain that could potentially identify them. In this, I will do my absolute best. But I will use my real name, because I am not afraid and I am not ashamed, but mostly because I want others who may be in or recovering from the same situation to know that they needn’t suffer in silence, and that they are definitely not to blame.
Everything I write about this from hereon in is for those women and men who have been oppressed, abused, beaten and murdered in the name of honour. They must understand that no one deserves to have their bodies beaten and spirits crushed simply for existing. Every time I think of Shafilea Ahmed, Banaz Mahmoud or a multitude of other lives lost I am thankful for the mercy that life showed me when I was still at threat from so many angles it’s a wonder I made it here at all. I’m not sharing for attention or to place blame or to seek revenge or to make the lives of those I care deeply for difficult. And let me be clear – this includes the perpetrators, my mother and father. I don’t believe in pure evil, and where you think you see it you look upon a soul in despair. I share because someone else did so for me, helping me recover completely and reach a place not only of peace and contentment, but of real joy. I’m actually happy now. And given everything I’ve been through, that’s a fucking miracle! Thank you Jasvinder Sanghera.
For now, I’ve said enough, though you might think I’ve said nothing at all. But to some, I commit the worst of crimes: I claim my right to a voice.
3 thoughts on “It’s Not My Shame”
You’re right, it’s not your shame. It’s theirs. Anyway, my heart goes out to you and I agree – just cos something is part of your culture, doesn’t mean it’s justified. In Scotland years and years ago, people used to knock all their teeth out and get dentures made as a special 18th birthday present. This isn’t as horrific as anything you went through, but it’s an example of things being culturally normative.
Anyway, I’m glad you’re happy!
Hi Laura, you’re absolutely right – tradition should never be a defence for human rights abuses. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Shaheen
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