I was never his wife, I was only his slave

Published: March 4, 2016

Not even 24 hours after my parents left, I was evaluated on the dowry that I was given. My in-laws felt that it wasn’t enough. PHOTO: AUTHOR

“I maybe from a  third world country but I have a heart like you do, emotions like you have, and dreams to pursue. On my first Eid as a married girl, I wanted to dress up and celebrate my new beginning instead of being in a hospital bed recovering from the effects of abuse.”

I got married in March 2014 in Chicago with dreams of starting a new life and a future built out on love and trust in my new home. My parents were so assured that they were giving me into the hands of an educated guy; someone who would value their daughter and appreciate her.

The day I got married, not even 24 hours after my parents left Chicago, I was evaluated on the dowry that I was given. My in-laws felt that it wasn’t enough – even though my dad had given all that he could. He had fulfilled every demand my in-laws had made and yet it did not satisfy them.

My husband, and in-laws, felt that all that I had brought in with me was not enough. The iron and ironing board were missing and there just weren’t enough comforter-sets to keep the entire family warm. They were so disappointed that they began scheming on ways to end my marriage.

My resistance infuriated my husband and then he became violent. I hid his brutality from my parents because of their heath condition. I never spoke of his foul behaviour in worry that it would affect their health.

My mother-in-law would summon me and make dowry requests. When I discussed this with my husband, he would say,

“Even our Prophet (PBUH)’s daughter got a dowry”

And then he would yell at me and say,

“If you won’t get anything, you can sleep on the mattress.”

I was shocked and horrified that someone who held the position of a Vice President at a bank, and who could afford a house was fixated on asking my father for furniture. As if this wasn’t deplorable enough, he demanded a 50-inch TV saying I was lucky he demanded only that because,

“I want a smart TV, but I will settle for the 50-inch TV.”

Finally, I resorted to asking my sister for help who paid for those things after marriage. I ordered everything my in-laws demanded on my sister’s credit card and went to pick them up with my husband. I was ashamed of being married to a man who was forcing me to take funds from my younger sister.

Despite succumbing to their requests, my husband and in-laws treated me akin to a slave. They would snatch away food from my plate if I did not finish cleaning the house. I would be forced to mow the lawns, while he would sit and watch. I was overburdened with domestic chores and on top of that, my in-laws’ attitude towards me left me emotionally and physically exhausted.

But my husband would brazenly vindicate this abuse by saying,

“I am giving you a roof, food and shelter.”

My health started to deteriorate with each passing day. I had become an emotionally torn person. I became deprived of my individuality. With each day getting worse than the last, my life turned into a living hell.

My marriage was completely devoid of any respect; I got none from my husband or his family. I was treated like a servant, was confined to the four walls of our house and was advised to ‘win hearts’ and not mope about my situation. Despite being his wife, I enjoyed no such place or position. There were restrictions laid upon me on going out by myself, cooking for myself, or my husband, and even staying in touch with my friends or family.

They wanted to exert control over every aspect of my life; I was forbidden from working or socialising, and bound to them in every way. I was to say I felt suffocated it would be a gross understatement. I was imprisoned in my own house and would cry to my sister about my pain, if I had the fortunate opportunity of talking to her. I would keep giving in to save my marriage and kept preventing the possibility of being a societal taboo; a divorced woman.

About a week before my six-month visa was expiring, he asked me to sign a postnuptial agreement. At that point, I was not aware of what that was. I was not even allowed to ask questions and was expected to blindly trust my husband. I was shown the document only minutes before reaching the notary office where I had to sign it. I was horrified to read the contents of the agreement. It stated,

‘The wife will not get alimony’

‘The wife will not have the right to contest divorce’

And the cherry on top of the cake was,

‘The wife has transparency to everything’.

In my five months of marriage, I had never had any transparency to his assets or his salary because he never considered me his partner. I was a slave from a third world country with parents far away from home.

Finally in Ramazan, one day before Eid in 2014, I was able to escape. I can never forget that day. He physically attacked me and then snatched my phone to stop me from reaching out for help. I thank God that I was able to find a laptop and use it to call my sister on Skype for help. I thought they were going to kill me, because when they snatched my phone, I had heard his mom say,

“We have to do something about her.”

I shudder when I recall the day I left their residence, bruised. I was 70 pounds in weight and shaking. On the day of Eid, I was in a hospital bed traumatised at my state, my health and my condition.

Since then, I have been going for counselling to bring myself, and my life, back together, and today, after months, I feel I have battled what thousands of women are still suffering. Every day thousands of girls suffer such form of abuse in silence and put up with domestic violence. Every day, thousands of parents become victims of threats and feel the urge to save their daughters from divorce.

To them, all I can say is, save your daughter. Educate and empower her, don’t allow her life to be put through hell. Her life is as important as any boys, it is as important as anyone else’s; don’t deprive her of the joy of living. I thank God for the support I have gotten from my family and friends, and they will thank you too. Please give them the opportunity to live. Be more vigilant. It is time that we stop using the words divorce and taboo synonymously. It is time we let our mothers, daughters, wives, sisters and female friends know that they have the right to live their lives as they please as much any man has that right.

If my message and story has had an impact on even one person, I believe I have saved a life. Here is to a new year with hope of a better society that doesn’t oppress anyone’s daughter in any way.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Noman Ansari

    You have to get this guy and his family. Name and shame. File a lawsuit. I am so mad. I am so upset. I’ve seen women go through this, silenced by shame, which is used as a weapon. You are very brave to have spoken up and to write a blog about it.

    Sue him.Recommend

  • Madiha Saeed

    I second educating and empowering women. The only dowry that you can give your daughter is confidence and believe in her power! Recommend

  • Faiza

    The post-nup can be set aside because you did not get an independent legal opinion plus there was unequal bargaining power in your relationship….that post-nup is what the court would deem “unconcionable” I know it’s not about the money but empower yourself and hit them where it hurts them most…they’re greedy monsters who only care about money
    U have legal rights to exercise and when ur ready u should consult a lawyerRecommend

  • San

    This angers me. I am sorry this happened. Thank you for sharing this story. It will surely help hundreds of girls out there. My prayers go out to you.Recommend

  • Syka Ditta

    Actually our beloved Prophet gave his beloved daughter a pray mat and a Holy book so that people will learn to understand that daughters are not a opportunity for others to gain worldly materials. He showed that, whom has a daughter and looks after her and keeps her happy and marries her to a good respected home he shall enter paradise for such charity and love. Its just sick how uneducated and selfish people are and blame Islam for their own wrong doings by use of incorrect information for their own personal needs. Educate yourself people! !!Recommend

  • Uzi

    Sobia send this article to his manager and Bank’s HR team. Get him fired, sue him! Can’t believe this is happening in the 21st centuryRecommend

  • Aasia Ishaque

    File multiple lawsuits ranging from torture to compensation;hit them where it hurt most;it’ll send a strong message to all such people and families who abuse relationships.
    It’s good that you wrote but don’t just write…complete the legal process so as to provide encouragement to all girls and tell them that they are not helpless in any way.
    May Allah bless you always.
    Recommend

  • Aasia Ishaque

    File multiple lawsuits ranging from torture to compensation;hit them where it hurt most;it’ll send a strong message to all such people and families who abuse relationships.
    It’s good that you wrote but don’t just write…complete the legal process so as to provide encouragement to all girls and tell them that they are not helpless in any way.
    May Allah bless you always.AmeenRecommend

  • Tash

    YES! I agree! Sue him, drag him to the court, if you don’t, I guarantee you he will do this to another girl and another and another. These people don’t deserve a respectful place in the society.

    On a lighter note, I am very happy that you got out, that you had the courage and were smart enough to call your sister that day and put an end to this. Glad you are safe now. May the coming years of your life be easier on you and bring you so much of happiness that you won’t remember to think about this traumatising phase of our life. Take care of yourself.Recommend

  • Faheem

    Thank you for speaking up. That’s incredibly brave and courageous of you. If you are still in US, a post-nuptial can be challenged in court if you can afford a good lawyer. Court has to establish that the contract was “under-duress” and may be he can be brought to justice.
    Good luck and hope you find closure.Recommend

  • Hinna malik

    Wow what a looser husband you had , throw him out of ur life he deserve that and file lawsuit against him , he deserve to stay in jail for atleadt 30 years minimum stupid abnormal s**t :((( I’m proud of you girl , you did a right thing Recommend

  • Osama Rao

    I do feel for you, but you should call the police, and charge him with assault. Lawyer up and find if you can somehow sue the Mother in Law as well, maybe for aiding and abetting.

    And if the stuff was bought with your money, sue them for taking it from you unwillingly. Show them that you’re not in Pakistan any more and this shit doesn’t fly in a developed society.Recommend

  • Muhammad Faisal

    Welcome to the reality! Sadly this is the world we are living in.Recommend

  • mike

    I hope this happens to you or your sister and I will ask you same questionRecommend

  • Ana

    If she were treated fine in her home, do you think she’d have to make it public? She suffered BECAUSE she didn’t want to bring “family matters out in public”.
    It’s because of people like you and your disgusting mentality that women are suffering. Recommend

  • Marzia

    Please listen to this brief podcast on how to best support women experiencing domestic violence http://traffic.libsyn.com/marziahassan/Supporting_women_experiencing_domestic_violence.mp3Recommend

  • Jasmine Alle

    I was fraudently tricked to Pakistan by my now ex husband in Jan 2014, confined to a room on a point of a kalashnkov, my belongings were snatched including pasport, and my son was separated ( age 9 years ) from me. I was only released after a month ( March 2014 ) on a condition that i must surrender my properties in order to see my son again. Not only that, he got married to my friend who abetted him in this heneous crime along with my ex’s 2 other brothers. This is his 6th marriage. I suppose he makes marriages a family business where he can cheat,torture and extort what ever he wants before looking for another woman. I have been fighting for my son ever since i recovered from trauma, mental and physical abused in Pakistan. I will never stop fighting no matter where he takes my son, Pakistan or USA, im sure gonna get him. He must pay for the pain and fear that he made my son gone through in his tender age. Like what happened to you, I was forced to sign some documents but i refused, so my signature was forged on some urdu written documents which they used in the court for guardianship case. I would rather die but i will never surrender my son to these illiterate goons from Mansehra. My marriage never took place in Pakistan but they produced some forged and fake documents to fulfill their needs in the court process. My signature was forged on a TALAK NAMAA. I spoke out in the High court and Supreme court of Pakistan but sadly, no one is even willing to hear.

    I am glad you are safe and i believe you made a right decision to get out of his house and life for good. I tell my self ‘ IM NOT THE VICTIM, IM THE HEROINE OF MY LIFE ” . Same goes to you girl, dont worry, your are much better off without him. And dont care about what others have to say being a divorced woman, your not the first to get divorced in this world. Once upon a time, i used to pay attention to this taboo crap etc but not any more, since i realized that my life matter the most.

    Zarena
    MalaysiaRecommend

  • Jasmine Alle

    Mine was in Mansehra, i came back to my country, once i gained my strenght, i went back to Pakistan to seek for my son. There is no end to my story. Now they are intimidated by me, cos i dare to come back. My ex is american, and i will make sure that i get him in the US too.Recommend

  • Mike2.0

    Wow this is such a horrific story.Recommend

  • Fahimuddin

    Let me clarify that I am against putting family or personal matters in news paper or exposing other as news are one side of the story, second most important thing is that I don’t believe in irrational people who are cursing me for my ideals. For all those ‘I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU WISH FOR ME OR MY FAMILY.’Recommend

  • Fahimuddin

    I don’t care what you say about my personal life ;)Recommend

  • Fahimuddin

    You are senseless. You don’t know what I have said and to whomRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    peeeeeeeeounRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    kaboooooooooooooomRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    You need to join Big boss reality show Pakistan version soonRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    respectfully, my heart is with Lady but I am against black mailing or exposing anyone on a one sided story published in media forumRecommend

  • Fahimuddin

    OK MR. Pakhtun hope you are enjoying in bay area and you don’t care what is having in you pakhtun motherland.Recommend

  • M

    I am very glad you are now safe and recovering. It is upsetting on so many levels. I hope you lead a happier and safer life from here on.

    One thing i would like to clarify, is that everything these people did is completely against Islam. First, Islam means peace and the Prophet – peace be upon him – said marriage is half one’s Religion because of the importance of mutual respect, caring, working as a team and so many other things. It is most definitely not about control and slavery because Islam forbids these things. In addition, the dowry should be given by the husband’s parents to the bride! Not the other way around! The bride is given a dowry in honor of her and she gets to keep every penny for herself and not anyone else. She chooses what to do with it. So the Prophet Mohamed’s (PBUH) daughters RECEIVED a dowry and not gave one! Recommend

  • Irum Zahra

    By all means, file for a lawsuit against a horrible shameful example of a human being. and why hide his name? Yell it aloud in the media so he is not able to do this to anyone in this world ever again. I feel so angry. But really, if there is anyone out there going through the same suffering, DON’T. save yourself rather than staying in a marriage that is a fraud and makes your life miserable.Recommend

  • Bhatti
  • Bhatti

    Agreed!Recommend

  • Bhatti
  • Bhatti

    i beg to differ :DRecommend

  • Bhatti

    Yes, I have sadly read the post AT ALL :DRecommend

  • Bhatti

    Ohhhhh.. I am hurt!Recommend

  • Anita

    This have nothing to do with greed but abuse/slavery…greed does not condone violence…Recommend

  • vijay2day

    What rubbish are you talking. Do you sound sensible? Why do you want to know the husband’s story? You feel the girl is speaking false in a blog? Courts will decide such issue OK , but that does not mean she should not speak her mind out about the trauma she went through. Also a US citizen or a VP of a Bank is not always a bad person. So just talk sense.Recommend

  • hyra

    please post his pictureRecommend

  • Linux Novice

    Prophet sets the example and the sheep follow!Recommend

  • Saher

    May Allah help you and guide us all to the right path!Recommend

  • Saher

    Hazrat Ali sold his armor to get household stuff for Hazrat Fatima while getting married!Recommend

  • Mahnoor Tahir

    Lol that’s your side of the story again. May b we should ask your wife how much happy you keep her. Recommend

  • Fahimuddin

    A good and happy story.Recommend

  • Aysha

    hmm..only in muslim countries men can get remarried that easily (especially if they are not divorced yet). women dont have any protection in muslim countries. Anyways, i wish you all the best in life…..forget about what he is doing with his life. focus on yourself , believe in youself that you deserved much better in life.Recommend

  • Aysha

    yes, we do need to help alll the abused women…all they need is a little courage to show the real face of an abuser to the world.No human being deserves to live a life as a victim of an abuser/cruel person.Recommend

  • Mustajab Bashir

    I hope you are doing well now ma’am. =)
    Recommend

  • Mushtaq Ahmad

    I agree with you 100%Recommend

  • Verity Davies Urek

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7aa3a999fd51a157f47f159a323c9f118c12f8372eeb5ef151c868d7eb711673.jpg
    Stay strong Sister, revenge and hatred will not erase your pain….insha’allah you will move on a stronger person and will surely find comfort and happiness in the future.Recommend

  • Lya Mani

    Women of any age gotta stand up to tis- u rather be a divorcee n a free woman then be a doormat to a man who doesn’t keep u right. If u don’t have what u deserve, LEAVE. N never feel guilty or ashamed about it..Recommend

  • Awesome Storm

    Domestic abuse can happen absolutely ANYWHERE in the world, so jump off that damn high horse! You never know when your life could take a nasty turn (God forbid) where you live, so watch what you say to others.Recommend

  • Awesome Storm

    People like you are the problem, and people like you need to be exposed and punished. I hope your wife shows you the door.Recommend

  • Awesome Storm

    YES! Exactly that! And rightly so! Are you worried now?Recommend

  • Awesome Storm

    Ohhhh if only!Recommend

  • Rprp

    Islamically, the wife is not supposed to give dowry. The dowry is a gift from the husband to the wife.
    He said the prophets daughter got a dowry…
    Well. She got it
    She never gave dowry to her husband
    That is culture.
    Tell them to get educated.Recommend

  • Raeesa Khan

    I don’t know what to say Sister am literally crying… u are so brave… may Allah give u all the happiness in this world and the next for what u had to put up with Recommend

  • Prettypink Prettypink

    Heart breaking !!

    I m sure Chicago / US has grave n serious and vigilant law-suits for domestic violence and reported marital issues, especially for immigrants from 3rd world countries and these kind of families must be exposed and pulled down – LEGALLY.

    Also the lesson WE WOMEN need to earn here is – 1 should get married for the correct REASONS and not parental pressure / green cards / or H-1B Visas !!Recommend