“Sharia … should not be allowed to operate in the UK.”

I had followed (Toni Bugle, founder of MARIAS) on Twitter for quite a while before we started speaking.  She asked if I lived in the UK and from there we began to DM (“direct message”), exchanged mobile numbers and then spoke on the phone.

I wanted to share my experience, as I believe it is important for others who are still suffering to know that they are not alone and to also show that Sharia cannot and should not be allowed to operate in the UK.

I was forced into a marriage at the age of 18 (Ed: Shazia is now in her 40’s). The nikkah took place in my family home.  It was obvious that I was not happy to be forced into the marriage but the molvi didn’t care.  My father had decided I was to be married and his decision was gospel.  The molvi didn’t give a damn about my feelings or my refusal to say ‘I do.’

The marriage was going ahead whether I agreed or not.

Forced into a marriage to a man much older than I was who made it clear, from the start, that he married me only for the red passport was hell.  What else could it have been?

My mother told me I would grow to love him.  Grow to love a man who raped me?  Grow to love a man who raped me so violently one night that the next day I ended up in hospital?

Bleeding and passing clots I was taken into theatre where I was stitched internally.  I refused to tell the doctors what had happened, too embarrassed, but surely they must have known.  Nothing was done to protect me from him, no safeguarding agencies were notified and I left hospital a few days later.

This was the early 90’s and some of the mullahs and molvis at mosques (in the UK) were beginning to enforce Sharia law.

“I was beaten because (under Sharia) he could”

My experience of it was part of life. I was beaten because he could, and he didn’t need to tell me he had this right under Sharia.  It was normal — same as the forced marriage was normal and part of life.

I had witnessed others getting forced into a marriage and so when my turn came I went along with it.  At first I did protest but soon shut up when I realised protesting was not going to help me.

I left him after three years and for that my father and the entire Pakistani community disowned me; I was no longer welcome and had to make a new life in the ‘white’ community.  When all you have known is the Pakistani community trying to fit into a different community is hard.

Twenty-five years later and I still suffer …

… from (the past experience of) being forced into a marriage and from being disowned.  I struggled with intimacy, I abused drugs for the longest time, and I ruined friendships as I became too full on and intense, wanting my new friends to become my family.

The government failed to protect me all those years ago for fear offending my father’s culture and today they are still failing in protecting.

They have made it a criminal offence to force your child into a marriage but when you have mosques enforcing Sharia law the British law is ignored.  When Sharia law is allowed to operate, Pakistani families have no fear of forcing their children into marriages, as they know they are protected under Sharia and nothing will happen to them.

About Shazia

Shazia Hobbs today. Author of The Gori’s Daughter