Rana Alshami | 16 February 2017
Sahar is a 16-year-old girl who lives in the city of Gaza. She has always dreamt of attending university but never completed preparatory level.
Sahar’s father told her a man had proposed marriage and he had agreed. She was in grief because her father demanded that she marry the man. She started becoming emotional while trying to express her refusal for the marriage. She said she wanted to finish her education before having any thoughts of marriage.
When Sahar’s father saw her reaction to the marriage proposal, he became very angry with her. The next day Sahar went to tell her uncles what had happened but they were unable to convince her father that marriage was wrong for her. Sahar’s father insisted on forcing her into the marriage. He became so angry that he threatened to divorce Sahar’s mother over her refusal. Sahar agreed to the marriage to save her parents’ marriage.
The first week after moving into her husband’s home, she was prevented from visiting family and friends. Her husband was a violent man and beat her cruelly. Suddenly, with no explanation, Sahar’s husband fell to the floor and started trembling and shaking violently. Sahar immediately called her neighbours for help. Doctors checked her husband and claimed that he suffered from epilepsy. Sahar became confused and angry that he had lied and cheated on her by not telling her of his condition. Sahar was shocked to discover that her father had known of his condition but insisted on the marriage anyway.
Sahar’s misery increased day by day. Her husband continued to keep her locked in, preventing her from seeing anyone. Sahar became so miserable and afraid that she started shouting for help. She was screaming and shouting every day from the sadness and pain she felt. Her neighbours heard her screams and took her to the hospital where she discovered she was pregnant. Although she was pregnant, she refused to return to her husband. She gave birth to a baby boy named Ahmed. Sahar divorced her husband a year later. Her father has since demanded that she marry another man who is 60 years of age.
Sahar could not finish the interview as she was too emotionally distraught. She is one of many child brides that have been subjected to early marriages due to the family’s inability to cater to her basic needs such as education. We can only hope that this story does not fall on death ears and help is received. Our prayers are with her.
“Child labour and poverty are inevitably bound together, and if you continue to use the labour of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labour to the end of time.” – Grace Abbott