He forced his way in to my father’s home then he rang me and said he would kill everyone, my whole family, so I said I’d go straight over. I went with him and then there was a year of assaults and rape and everything you can imagine. We used to sell bread on the streets.
I knew one of them. I knew that I had upset him earlier and that they’d decided to teach me a lesson. They shouted “You’re not a man! You’re going to find out what it’s like to be woman!” Then they tore my clothes off, beat me and started to rape me. That’s the last thing I remember.
Name: Maryam Saiid
The midwife had a razor. I bled for a whole week afterwards.
I never talked to my mother about what had happened. It was a forbidden topic of conversation.
I still don’t enjoy sex.
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.
He didn’t want me to leave the house for anything, suspected me of all kinds of things, and when he had beaten me he used to lock me in the house so no-one would see my injuries.
He didn’t drink and he didn’t take drugs. He was just crazy. He threatened to beat me to death if I reported him to police.
When he disappeared from my life, so did my great joy: music. I had been singing more or less professionally since I was five years old. My boyfriend and I had performed together, singing and playing in bars and at weddings. Outwardly, we were that perfect, sweet couple who made a living from their music.
We hadn’t argued or anything like that. I’d been down in the basement to collect the washing. Then it just exploded. After that it quickly got worse. He called me a “bloody whore” and started watching my every move. I don’t really understand why he changed. I’d made my mind up to find out but I didn’t get the chance. He died a couple of years back, so I still don’t know.