When I came to the UK to seek asylum, I thought I just had to tell the truth. ‘We don’t believe you’, the man in the Croydon UKBA office said. ‘Get out. I’ll call security if you don’t leave.’ I had no money and no friends in London, I waited through the night, terrified of the men on the streets around me. When I applied for asylum, my decision was refused. They didn’t believe that I was married to my husband, who happened to be well-known musician because I didn’t know the date of his birth, and when they asked me to give his father’s name I gave a nickname and not the name they found on the Internet. Because they had not accepted my marriage, they didn’t even consider my evidence of abuse.
I was forced to marry at the age of 19, to a man who was a distant relation of my father’s and who never showed me any affection. A medical examination by a doctor at the Helen Bamber Foundation found more than 50 scars on my body consistent with deliberate abuse, including burning with irons. But when I asked my family and friends for help they just told me to accept it. That is all they know. They believe that even if your husband is violent you have to bear it. And if you leave him – then it’s your fault. You don’t have any life.