Case study: ‘For many imams speaking against rape is embarrassing’

It wasn’t love that brought Aliya and Hassan together, but a couple of childhood photos he’d seen of her. For Hassan, Aliyah – then a 20-year-old from Manchester – was a ticket out of Pakistan to join his brothers in England in the hope of kick-starting a lucrative career in medicine.

As for what Aliyah thought of Hassan? Well, no one cared. Not her mother, who threatened to kill herself if Aliyah didn’t go through with the marriage. Not her father, who had routinely molested Aliyah in her formative years, and not her siblings, who desperately wanted to uphold their parents’ honour and obey their demands.

For three years after her wedding in Pakistan in 1998 Aliyah – a practising Muslim raised in northern England, who wears the hijab – was raped and emotionally abused by her husband. “He wanted to do things in the bedroom that I didn’t want to do,” she told The Times. “And in the end he forcefully got what he wanted.”

Aliyah, who worked as a factory-hand to support her unemployed husband, went to her local cleric to raise her concerns of being subjected to sexual abuse after her mother refused to listen to her complaints.




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