I spent the first seven years of my life in a children's home in England, where I was brought up on English values, went to church every Sunday, received pocket money every week, went to school and played with my friends. Everything that is ‘normal' for an English child. And then, much to my delight my parents retrieved me.
Within a day, I found myself thrown into an abusive family and culture I didn't understand. People spoke to me in a foreign language. I cleaned the house, cooked food with which I was unfamiliar, barely had time for school and studied the Quran in a language I couldn't read.
By the age of nine, I felt trapped lonely and abandoned. Shortly after I turned thirteen my mother unexpectedly offered me a reward for all my hard work: a holiday to Pakistan. I couldn't wait to visit my families and visit such a faraway place. The colours, the smells, the sounds of a different culture excited my imagination. Until my mother forced me to marry a complete stranger, twice my age, who did things to me I was too young and too naïve to understand. Repeated suicide attempts failed and I soon realised my only hope of escape was to get pregnant which meant I could go home. Alone.
Back in the UK I face a life of loneliness. Even if I had the opportunity to socialise with girls my age: what did I a new mother age 14 have in common with them? They were listening to Duran Duran and worrying about their O Levels; I was changing my son's nappies and worrying about him teething.
This is the life of many girls forced into marriages. But drawing on the foundations of my early childhood in the care home I was determined not to be another victim.
At eighteen I took my four year old son and ran away. My own brother tried to hunt me down and kill me to save the family's honour. Somehow I found the means to escape.
I have come to terms with both my experience and my family and have written my story to share with other young women like myself who find they are feeling alone trapped in a world they think others will not understand or believe...
I do because I have lived through it and survived.
Forced Marriage Is Wrong... I Had To Escape - April 2010
Agent: Broo Doherty
Books by Sameem Ali
A Liberal-Thinking Muslim Woman Making A Difference - March 2008