Edited by @Gillianfx
Sami Ahmed is a 21-year-old student, scriptwriter and activist. She is also the daughter of a child bride. Her mother, Saira was 13 or 14 years old when her parents began the search for an “appropriate” groom for her in Bangladesh. Saira’s parents chose a 26-year-old British-Bangladeshi stranger from England as the best choice for their daughter.
“My mother’s wedding was an ordeal, not a celebration. She was too young to understand what was happening, but this was the start of her nightmares.” said Sami.
Saira’s husband (Sami’s father) was a manic depressive pedophile, a fact that was hidden from everyone in Bangladesh. His family took him to Bangladesh to find a native young bride, hoping that he would stop harassing the underage girls in his family. Sami’s mother became a young bride in England who couldn’t speak English and was never allowed out of her husband’s home alone. She endured mental, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband and in-laws. Eventually, she became pregnant with Sami. During her pregnancy she was told that her cravings for food were wrong and she became anemic. Her husband tried to kill her when she was seven-months pregnant. At the hospital after Sami was born, a team of translators, social service workers and lawyers informed her that her husband was a pedophile and would not be allowed near Sami.
That was the day Sami’s mother decided to divorce her abuser. That is the day that 10 million child brides a year don’t get to have. Saira’s story is nothing short of a miracle after that. The government gave her shelter and tokens to feed mother and child. She learned English, worked in a Women’s Centre, where she advised many British-Asian girls who were victims of forced marriage to escape and love themselves again.
“My mother’s story became my inspiration to end child marriage in our lifetime. The life she lived must be put to use to save the millions of girls who become child brides overnight. I have created a campaign called Justice For Saira, which asks the Bangladesh government to acknowledge the wrongdoings my mother suffered and asks that they do more to stop child marriage. Sixty-six percent of girls in Bangladesh are married under the age of 18 and 32% under the age of 15. This shows how much work is left to be done. 10,000 people have signed my petition from over 30 countries.”