“Father over mother, mother over me and me over the cat,” said the boy.
“You can’t live on your own when you’re a woman in Pakistan. Never.”
I’ve been married to Muhammed for 17 years. We lived with his parents. Muhammed beat me when he was high on drugs and stopped me from seeing my parents and sisters. Lots of people said I should leave him, but my oldest sister had just separated from her husband – my brother-in-law was very violent – and I have three other sisters who were next in line to be married. If I had got divorced too the whole family would have lost face. People would have said that we were bad girls, and my sisters’ future would have been threatened. So I stayed with Muhammed. But some years ago I made my mind up. I took all six children and escaped to my sister in Rawalpindi. I got a job there, and had a good life.
I got a job there, and had a good life.
Then my oldest son started controlling me. He became just like his father, he beat and threatened me. Finally, he rang Muhammed and told him where we were, and he came and got us.
Muhammed accepted that we wouldn’t be living together, but he forced me to live with his brother and sister-in-law. They’re the ones who gave me this black eye. When that happened I made my mind up. Now I’m here and I’m never going back to that family.
My two oldest children have taken their father’s side, and I’ve put the middle boys into a Koranic school, but I’ve decided to get a job so I can support them. Maybe I can live with my uncle. Or with my sister’s family. You can’t live on your own when you’re a woman in Pakistan. Never.