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April 21, 2014
forced marriage

My mom seized her opportunity under the cover of night.

She had always been my fiercest advocate. She insisted I attend school, a rare path for girls in my conservative community in Yemen. When I turned 13, everything changed. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Under intense pressure from his family, my dad abruptly ended my education and arranged for my marriage to a 50-year-old man.

Sick and outnumbered by her dangerous in-laws, my mom had to be strategic.

She arranged for cancer treatment in the United States. The night before her scheduled departure, she snuck into my room and we left together. We escaped to my aunt’s home in the States, but then cancer took my mom’s life. My dad harassed me to come home. Alone and desperate, I tried to take my own life. My cry for help led me to Tahirih.

Together, we applied for a special visa for abused children, and today, I am safe.

Names may have been changed to protect client privacy and safety. Photo may not depict actual client.

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