My name is Sasha. I have is a story to tell you. I want to warn you about something that is happening in our country which is having a very bad effect on many young girls, and some boys. It’s happening to girls of all sorts of different backgrounds. My grandparents came from Bangladesh. My parents were brought up in the UK. There was quite a lot of tension in my family as we were growing up. My grandparents had a lot of influence and their plan was that I would marry a Bangladeshi boy. My parents were not so sure about that. I certainly didn’t want to marry someone I had never met. When I was 13 I was taken to Bangladesh by my grandparents. I met a man who was 38. They told me that he would come over to the UK and marry me when I was 16. He seemed like an old man to me. He had teeth missing and he didn’t speak English. I thought it would be terrible being married to him.
When I came back to the UK I told my friends about this old man. I said I would never marry him and I told my parents that. We started to argue. They said that my grandparents only wanted the best for me. I said they just wanted to get their friend’s son a UK passport, which he would have if he married me. I became very annoyed and upset. I needed to find a way of avoiding this marriage.
I had several girlfriends at school. One of them invited me to a sleep over at her house. I think my parents were quite relieved to let me go because we had been arguing so much. My friends had brothers. Sometimes we had parties with just a few people. We put on some music and danced. It was great fun. I felt as if there was hope for me and my future. The world did not consist of only that man from Bangladesh. After a few weeks my grandparents heard that I had been going out and seeing boys. They were very angry. They imprisoned me in my room. I could not bear it. They said they were going to take me over to Bangladesh and marry me to the man because I didn’t have to be 16 to get married over there.
I escaped from my house. I didn’t know where to go. If I went to my friends house my parents would just bring me home. I went to the city centre, where the lights were bright. I felt better there. I knew a boy called Mark who worked in a club. I was hoping to see him. I stood outside the Tiger club and a handsome young man came out. He had a nice smile. I thought he might know the boy. He told me he did and that we could go inside and have a drink and wait for Mark. He asked me all sorts of questions and because I was lonely and unhappy I told him about my problem. There was no sign of Mark and the young man told me that he would show me a hostel where I could stay so that I didn’t have to go home. I was afraid but I was more afraid of being taken to Bangladesh, so I did go to the hostel. It was noisy and quite dirty and people disturbed me in the night. Women were shouting and crying. The next morning when I stepped outside, there was the young man , Kumar, waiting for me. He asked me how I had got on and offered to buy me some breakfast. I was so pleased to see him. He seemed to be like an old friend. I spent the day with him, just walking around the city, seeing the sights and having a nice lunch. He seemed to be so kind and I needed kindness. At the end of the day he asked me if I was going back to the hostel. He read my face. I really didn’t want to go.
He said he shared a house with some other young men, and that one of them was away at the moment and I could stay in his room if I wanted to. I stayed. I felt so grown up. I had my own room and I could use the kitchen. There was plenty of food. I cooked meals for Kumar. He said I was pretty and that I would be wasted on the Bangladeshi man. After a few days he said his friend Rajesh was coming back and that I would have to leave the room. I was upset, where would I go?
He said if I didn’t mind sharing his bed I could stay in his room. He had been so nice to me. I didn’t want to leave and I had nowhere else to go. That was my first experience of sex. There was no love in it, it just seemed rather strange and not enjoyable, but not horrible. After a few nights he told me Rajesh wanted to sleep with me. I was shocked. He laughed. He told me I wasn’t his wife. He said if I wanted to stay I would have to sleep with Rajesh. I had no choice. Rajesh was horrible. He didn’t care about me at all. When he had finished with me he made me sleep on the floor. That was the beginning of a terrible time. Every day a different man came for me. I had to stay in the house and cook and do whatever the men wanted. Some of them were dirty, some were rough and I saw them paying Rajesh. They never talked to me as a person, they just used me.
One day when is everyone was out I escaped through the bathroom window. I had no shoes. They had taken them away to prevent me from trying to escape. I had decided to go home. I thought that if my parents loved me they would see how I had suffered and they would leave me alone and not make me marry. I was right. They were very upset and said that my grandparents were wrong and they would never let them take me away. I had a lucky escape really, although it was a terrible experience. Fortunately, I didn’t become pregnant and didn’t pick up a dreadful disease. The men didn’t beat me up and they didn’t come looking for me. I went back to school to finish my education and now I have joined a charity which helps girls to get out of situations of the sort that I was in.
Sexual exploitation of girls and sometimes boys is a cruel and wicked thing and we should work hard to prevent it from happening.
Why did Sasha want to leave home?
What is ‘forced marriage’? It is illegal in the UK. Girls can get help. Ask your teacher or social worker about this.
Why did Sasha want to trust Kumar?
What did Kumar do to get Sasha to trust him?
What did Kumar want from Sasha?
Have you heard about this sort of thing before? What else could have happened to Sasha?
Could she have gone to the police?
Who could have helped Sasha?