I’m almost as old as my country, that’s what my mother always said. I was born in 1948, a year after the birth of the nation of Pakistan. At the age of twelve I was a bride, and I was only fourteen when my oldest child was born.

“I pray to Allah that no girl ever needs to be born in Pakistan.”


I had six children altogether with my first husband, but only three survived.
We lived with his family, and it wasn’t really my husband who was the main problem, it was my brother-in-law.

I was beautiful in those days, and my brother-in-law saw it as his duty to keep an eye on me. He claimed I was unfaithful, he shouted and argued. I became more and more afraid of him. I thought he would kill, or at least rape, me. I wanted a divorce but everyone was against me – including my own parents. I can understand that, they were poor and didn’t need yet another mouth to feed, but I was working – washing and cleaning in people’s homes – and was allowed to move home to my mother and father.

You’re too beautiful, he said. If I can’t have you no-one else will.

I lived with my parents for eight years until my employer arranged a new marriage. He thought I needed the protection a married man can offer.

It’s my ex-husband who’s responsible for the acid injury. He was no trouble throughout the eight years we lived apart, but when he heard I was planning to remarry – then he came and threw acid over me. “You’re too beautiful,” he said. “If I can’t have you no-one else will.” I’ve got scars all over my body.
The police came and arrested him, but after six months his parents managed to get him out through bribery.  There was never a trial.

I didn’t know the new man I was going to marry and no-one asked me what I thought, but he turned out to be a good man. I still have his identity card so I can look at his photograph. He’s been dead for five years now. Now I live all alone in my room. I have three daughters from my second marriage and they help me now that I’m old.
But I pray to Allah that no girl ever need be born in Pakistan.