Cultural Patriarchal Challenges of a Divorced Woman

26 years old SG arrived at Humraaz with her 6-month old son via social services, she was 5 months pregnant with no recourse to public funds. Social services had removed her from her marital home against her will, due to her husband’s history of child abuse.

Her husband has contacted the police accusing SG of having an affair therefore trying to poison him. He had done the same to his ex-wife. The Police made a referral to social services and highlighted his history of abusing his 5 children from his previous marriage.

During the interview with social services, SG disclosed some elements of domestic abuse however insisted she is content with her marital life and wanted to remain at home with her husband and son. Social Services gave her an ultimatum that she either leaves with her son or the child will be placed on the child protection register and removed due to safety risks. SG reluctantly left her martial home and accessed refuge at Humraaz. Social Services initially funded the bed space and living costs for SG and her son.

SG’s social worker and staff at Humraaz encouraged SG to access Claire’s Law in order to understand the severity of her husband’s mistreatment towards his other children but SG declined and was very clear she did not want to know his past.

Once at the refuge SG soon realised that her husband is showing no interest and not cooperating with social services. Initially SG’s had the support from her brother in law and his wife but that too came to an end when SG was unable to do anything to return to her marital home.

During her stay at Humraaz, SG developed a trusting relationship with staff and disclosed some horrific abuse she has been encountering since her childhood. SG has 8 siblings and comes from a poor background, she is a middle child and being the prettiest, her mother had high hopes to cash her beauty therefore married her off to a 52 years old Pakistani British man at the age of 14. He has promised to apply for a spousal visa in order to come to the UK however this was not the case as he already had family in the UK therefore SG was left to carryout housework and look after her mother and father in law. During this marriage she became pregnant and her husband divorced her due to pressure from his first wife. Consequently, SG was thrown out of her marital home so she had no choice but to return to her parents when 8 months pregnant. At the age of 15 SG gave birth to a full term stillborn baby boy. She is convinced the baby died due to not having appropriate medical intervention due to poverty.

Soon after the childbirth, SG’s mother arranged another marriage for her. This time again her husband was a middle aged man, mixed raced British citizen with complex mental health issues. At 16 SG found herself in a similar situation where her husband abused her daily and accused her of marrying him for his immigration status. SG was physically, emotionally, verbally and sexually abused by her husband who told SG that he will make sure she never gets to the UK. Once back in the UK he stopped any contact with SG and left no contact details for her to contact him.

At the age of 17 SG was sent to the UK by her mother on a student visa, she stayed with her maternal aunt in the North West, she managed to contact her husband but he did not want to know her and divorced her. She started working in a factory 40 to 50 hours weekly. She was financially supporting her family in Pakistan and paying a substantial sum to her aunt. A year later SG moved out from her aunt’s and shared a room with another female. During this time SG saved over £5000 and applied for political asylum as she did not want to go back to her family, she feared her mother will do the same again.

While waiting for the outcome of her application, under SG’s mother’s instructions her aunt arranged another marriage with a 50 years old man to make sure SG will be allowed to remain in the UK. At 19 SG was married again for the 3rd time to an older man who controlled and abused her, took all her savings and kicked her out after divorcing her. The Asylum application was rejected and SG returned back to Pakistan.

SG’s family were unhappy with her return hence SG suffered emotional and verbal abuse on a daily basis. SG was desperate to go back to her education but her mother found her another 47-year-old British Pakistani to marry. At 22 SG was married again to an older British man. Once again she was left with her husband’s parents, to cook, clean and look after them. She stayed with them for over 18 months, her father in law was good to her therefore for the first ever time in her life she was content.

Eventually she arrived in the UK in July 2018 to live with her husband. It soon became clear that her husband was an abusive and paranoid individual however SG was adamant to put up with anything in order to make her marriage work this time. Soon after arriving she became pregnant and gave birth to their son in April 2019. SG was not allowed to have any contact with her family or friends, she was accompanied everywhere by her husband, she had to eat what he wanted her to eat, wear what he chose etc but she was in her own house with her child and husband who abused her but showed her love occasionally. SG became pregnant again and suddenly her husband accused her of trying to kill him. This came as a huge shock to her yet she was not willing to give a statement about the domestic abuse she was suffering at his hands as she wanted to make her marriage work and have some stability for her children.

Since arriving at Humraaz, staff have supported SG to get DDV concession, Child benefit and Universal Credit hence financially independent and no longer dependent on her husband for immigration status. She is attending numerous sessions on offer by Humraaz to develop her skills and confidence. SG has expressed that a weight has been lifted from her shoulders after sharing her story with staff.

SG is looking forward to an abuse free future with her children.