It’s not easy being a woman in Pakistan…Women face disproportionately high levels of poverty, work in exploitative labor conditions, get little or no remuneration, face the double burden of housework and reproductive responsibility, and are subjected to gender-based violence. – Tahira Abdullah, a human rights activist based in Islamabad.
What is your difficulty?
I live in Pakistan. I got married at the age of twenty. I was very happy before I married. Before marriage I dreamed of a happy married life like every girl.
I’m 28 now. My parents love me a lot. I have two brothers, mom and dad, and a sweet child.
My dad had a pharmacy company. Then he got sick. His company ended and he asked me to stop going to school and marry. I wanted to study but my parents married me with him.
After marriage my dream of a happy marriage was destroyed.
My husband started abusing me after we were married for one month. In front of his parents and sister and our son he said, “Go to your parent’s house and tell them to buy me a house and car.”
I told my husband that I’ll never say all this to my parents. I’ll never ask them.
He yelled, “If you don’t, I will divorce you. I will kill you!”
He was angry. He threw crockery and shoes at me and pulled my hair.
He hurt me. My child started crying. She was scared. At 11 that night, believing my husband would kill me, I left. I was very afraid because I never leave the house alone. I take a vehicle drive (like taxi) alone with my child back to my parent’s house.
I had no job after leaving my husband’s house. That year is my poorest days of my life. I have no money and no job.
Now I am divorced. Divorced women are a burden to their parents. I live with my parents with my child.
My husband is engaged to another woman and marries her in a few days.
What feelings arise?
I am afraid of my husband. My husband sent me messages saying that he’ll take his child back from me. He’ll kidnap me and my child. Or kill us.
I want to protect myself and my child.
I feel desperate for freedom and a job that pays so I can support my child. I am frustrated.
How does this affect you?
I want to leave my country. To save me, and my child’s life. But I have no visa and no resources. I don’t know who to trust in my country. It is dangerous for a woman living in Pakistan.
I just want to go to another place or country. I want to be a refugee but I don’t know how to get away. I know about refugees in other countries and the problem and that it is dangerous to leave. It is more dangerous to stay.
What are you learning?
I want to be treated with the same respect a Pakistani man is treated.
I want woman freedom and more possibilities of jobs.
I want to come to the United States because Americans respect women.
I want to be able to get a job that pays me enough to live.
I want to choose the person I marry.
I want to not be afraid to use my real name on Facebook.
I want to be able to leave my country.
I want other countries to stop hurting us to help us.
I want other countries to stop buying bombs to bomb my family and other families and instead help us get food, water, and books and places to learn.
I want my child to learn to be a doctor instead of learning to fire a gun.
I want to forgive the people who are mean to me on Facebook because I am a Muslim.
I want to go to school without men wanting to shoot me.
I learned that I need a visa and a sponsor from another country.
I want to be able to get a visa.
I want to trust the person who gives visa instead of thinking that person will kill me for wanting to leave and steal my money.
A man from Oklahoma said he would send a visa and let me take care of his home if I sent money. I told a United States friend and she investigated and found out it is a scam. My friend called the man. The man harassed her in the middle of the night. I didn’t want to believe it was a scam. But then I knew it was a scam.
I don’t know how to help me and my child leave Pakistan to go to another country.
How do you choose to respond or work with your difficulty?
I wait and pray for help. I want my child to go to school.
I got a job at a small school teaching my child and six-year-olds. The pay is very low but I do it for my child. My parents sent me to school before I married. I teach to support my child learning.
I choose to love my country. I believe one day I can be free of the oppression of Pakistan. One day I believe our country will be clean from this terrorism.
Now I must take care of myself and my child.
I pray that someone sponsors me and I get freedom.
How can you use what you learn in the future?
I hope, which is God (Allah). I know God will send an angel one day and protect us and give us happiness.
Female. Lahore, Pakistan.