Victim of forced marriage opens up about the terror of being raped on her wedding night

A brave woman has shared her life story, revealing that she was raped on her wedding night - and how she finally escaped the horror of her forced marriage

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by Kayleigh Dray |

Yesterday, forced marriage became a criminal act in the UK - and, to mark the occasion, one brave woman decided to share her own horrifying experiences with the world.

Speaking with Cosmopolitan, Ayesha - using a false name - revealed: "My dad said he wanted to take me to Pakistan to see my grandparents as I hadn’t visited them for more than 10 years.

"It turned out he didn’t believe in ‘marital rape’ – he thought it was a husband’s prerogative to have sex whenever he wanted it"

"At the airport, we had a big family send-off and one of my aunts made a comment – ‘You’re going to come back a married woman.’ I remember feeling absolutely sick and breaking down in tears. ‘I’m not going, I’m not going!’ I cried.

"‘Do you honestly think we wouldn’t tell you if we were going to take you to get married?!’ my dad said. You don’t expect your parents to lie to you so I took him at his word – ‘It’s just a holiday,’ he told me."

However Ayesha's forced marriage fears became a reality when her family trapped her into marrying a distant relative - and her husband, who moved to the UK to live with his new wife, began treating her like a possession he owned, rather than a person.

"That night, when we were left alone, I said to him, ‘Look, we don’t know each other. I know things are meant to happen on your wedding night, but would you mind if we didn’t? I’d like to get to know you first.’

"Instead, he raped me. It turned out he didn’t believe in ‘marital rape’ – he thought it was a husband’s prerogative to have sex whenever he wanted it."

Ayesha's husband became violent, treating her like an object rather than as a person [stock image used]

She added: "I felt completely worthless – like an object, instead of a human being. To begin with, I’d pushed back against him but soon it was just easier to give in. The first time he hit me was when we were arguing in the car, parked outside college. As he was punching me I kept thinking, ‘Someone’s going to see this’ but nobody did."

Ayesha turned to self-harm, unable to see a way out, but, thankfully, a male friend from university found out and made her promise to stop. And, as the pair grew closer, she realised there was a way out of her nightmare:

"Steve [false name given] knew I was married and he knew my situation. I made a snap decision; I packed my car with as many of my belongings as I could and within 30 minutes I was on his doorstep – that was the start of my escape from both my husband and my family."

Ayesha found happiness with Steve - but she is aware that many other victims of forced marriage do not have such a happy ending as she did. [Stock image used]

"Today I live miles away from all of them. I’m divorced and Steve and I are together. I now lead the life I always dreamed of."

Ayesha escaped, but she now works with Karma Nirvana to help other girls and women do the same and escape their bullying families.

On Monday 16th June 2014, a law was passed in the UK to make forced marriage a criminal act, potentially protecting thousands of potential victims in England and Wales.

Forcing someone into marriage in England and Wales will carry a maximum seven-year jail sentence under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The change also criminalises forcing a British national into marriage outside the UK.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "Forced marriage is a tragedy for each and every victim, and its very nature means that many cases go unreported.

"I am proud to say that the UK is already a world-leader in the fight to stamp out this harmful practice with the Government's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) working hard to tackle this terrible practice in the UK and overseas."

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