A woman who was abandoned in Pakistan and suffered years of abuse at the hands of violent husband says more can be done to support other women in her situation.
She told how her husband only ever called her ‘b******’, lived with his girlfriend and expected her to be a servant to the wider family.
Naveeda (not her real name), a mother of two came to a Lancashire based women’s refuge after enduring years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband and his family.
Naveeda revealed that her anguish began the day she set foot in her new home after her wedding.
“The first day that I arrived in the UK after our wedding, my husband told me that he already had a white girlfriend and that he never wanted to marry me in the first place.
“He told me I should just leave and go back home to my village in Pakistan.
“His family all knew about the girlfriend. They just thought he would amend his ways after a traditional wedding.
“He just wasn’t interested. He told me I had no right to speak to him. I wasn’t even allowed to sit near him.
“He said I was brought over here to be their family servant. My husband never called me by my name. He only ever referred to me as ‘the b******’.
“He spent every night at his girlfriend’s house. He only slept with me when his mother told him to.”
Naveeda said that her husband became aggressive after her first son was born. “It was like he blamed me because he couldn’t marry his girlfriend.
“He told me couldn’t afford the baby and that he never wanted to have any children. He told me to take the baby and go back to Pakistan. That made me cry so much. He then said that he will only consider letting us stay in the house if I knelt at his feet and begged for his forgiveness. So I did.”
Naveeda was subjected to repeated physical abuse by her husband.
“He would hit me and shout at me. None of my in-laws ever tried to stop him.
“He forced me to stop breastfeeding the baby so he could take my son with him when he stayed overnight with his girlfriend.
“A day after our second son was born, my husband went away for a holiday with his girlfriend.”
When Naveeda’s second son turned 6 months old, her husband seemed keen to amend his relationship with her.
“All of a sudden he said that we should take a family trip to Pakistan. He said it has been years since I visited my family and that a trip was well overdue. I was overjoyed. I thought my life had magically changed.
“When we arrived at my parent’s home, the following day my husband said he was taking the kids out for the day.
“When they hadn’t returned home at night I started panicking. I rang his relatives to see if they knew anything.
“His Uncle told me that my husband and kids had returned to the UK that evening.
“My whole world fell apart in that instance. I couldn’t believe how he had deceived me.
“I ran to check my handbag where I had kept the children’s passports.
“Their passports were missing-along with mine.”
Naveeda, now trapped in Pakistan sought legal counsel to see if she could return to the UK and take action against her husband.
“My parents are poor. They cannot afford this type of upheaval. But by the grace of God a reputable lawyer took on my case and didn’t charge us a single rupee.
“He secured my return to the UK.
“Even after I returned, I went back to my husband’s home. At this stage he was living predominantly with his girlfriend.
“My mother-in-law and sister-in-laws told me I was not welcome in their home and that I had to leave. But they ordered me to leave my sons with them.
“They even gave me the details of a refuge.
“I did leave. And I took my kids with me.”
Naveeda stayed at this refuge for a week, but because they did not accommodate children, Naveeda was moved to Humraaz in Blackburn. She has never looked back since.
“I give duas to all the people who work in Humraaz.
“They gave me so much support. Today I am only on my feet because of Humraaz.
“Even now that I am in my own accommodation, they are still there to support me.
“I go to Humraaz once a week for coffee mornings. It’s a wonderful support network.
“My husband no longer sees the children. He did visit them once last year, so they stayed with him for a few days. When they came back, they had visible bruises on their bodies.
“After the police and social services got involved, he doesn’t visit the kids anymore.
“Humraaz turned my life around. My kids are doing well in school. The atmosphere in our home is calm and relaxed. There is no swearing, no physical violence.
“We no longer live in fear.”
Firoza Mohmed ,Service Manager at Humraaz said,“At Humraaz we support victims who have suffered varying types of abuse, as in this case it is not unusual to have multiple perpetrators.
“We will continue to keep the women safe, support them to come to terms with the abuse and prepare them for independent living with appropriate life skills. “The women have access to a number of in-house and community courses.
“This serves to empower the women to make life decisions with the right information, advice and guidance. Our service users receive long term support whilst settling in the area.
source : Asian Image