'When I was 8, I got engaged, married at 15. Later repeatedly abused by my husband'
She was married off at a young age of 15 and suffered abuse from her husband, almost double her age.
Daily Telegraph reported that Naila Amin, raised in New York City and of Pakistani descent, learned that her father had spoken for her and that she was engaged at the age of eight.
She was at a family wedding when some girls told her that she was engaged the previous night.
Angry that her parents did not even tell her about the engagement, young Amin started to rebel against her Pakistani heritage.
She would borrow Western clothes from her neighbors and change into them on her way to school. She even refused to wear her headscarf.
At the age of 13, she was sent off to Pakistan where she had to undergo ‘nikah,’ an Islamic marriage ceremony. Her father applied to legalize the marriage and get a spousal visa for her husband when she returned home.
Though she signed some paperwork, she had hoped that the US officials would notice her age and reject her application. However, to her shock, the application was not rejected.
Even at 14, she could legally marry with parental consent as 25 states have no minimum age requirement for marriage.
Amin began rebelling ever more and started dating an American boy her own age. However, she was caught by her father and he beat her up so badly that she had to be taken into care.
Days before her 15th birthday, she was sent to Pakistan to get married. Amin was terrified the entire day and refused to let anyone do her makeup for her.
She even put a pillow between herself and her husband so that she wouldn’t have to touch him.
Having lost her virginity to her American boyfriend, Amin was fearful her husband would be furious if she did not bleed the first time they had sex. She was, however, saved because she was on the final days of her period at the time.
Eventually, she faced her husband’s fury as he raped her often. He once told her that although it may have been her body, it belonged to him.
The young girl only wished she were in jail instead as that would save her from her husband.
She even contemplated suicide, trying hard to get hold of fertilizer pellets that other women used for the same reason.
The first ten days of her marriage had been horrific and she wanted out already. She tried to run away to the US Embassy, but was caught and was beaten up by her husband.
Her father too joined in on the beating. Even to this day, Amin has a bald patch where her hair never grew back and an indent on her thigh from the injuries she suffered.
She said, “He beat me in front of my whole family, his sisters, their kids their husbands, my little sister, my mother. I remember my mother screaming like she was in labor or something.”
Her parents returned to the U.S. five months after marrying their daughter off. During this time she had managed to borrow a phone from an uncle and contacted her child protection caseworker in New York.
As the Amins landed at the JFK airport, the authorities arrested her mother for kidnapping and told her that the only way she would be released was if Amin’s father contacted her husband and had her immediately returned to New York.
When Amin finally arrived, she was greeted by a swarm of 20 social workers and child protection officers.
Amin, who is now 28 years old, lives with her boyfriend in Long Island. She does not want to leave the past behind and allow others to suffer the same injustice as she did.
She now works tirelessly to put an end to child marriage. She said that her experiences resulted in PTSD, anxiety, and other physical problems.
She has started The Naila Amin Foundation in order to help victims of child or forced marriage. Amin said that she does not understand how the US can take so many great strides forward and yet allow something so archaic to continue.
Having lost her childhood, she hopes she is able to see some change in her lifetime.