The man who proposed to me


I am a 27-year-old single mum with a seven-year-old son. Today my son and I are living with my mother in our village. Even though I have a son I was never married, and this is how my story goes:

In 1992 my family was traditionally approached by a soldier’s family for marriage. At that time I was 16 and the soldier, whose name was Marika, was already 29 years old. I was not prepared to have a relationship with him because of our age gap but my opinion did not count as was usually the custom when someone was traditionally approached for marriage – the family decides ‘yes or no’. I was upset but there was nothing I could do as my family had already agreed.

I waited until I was 19 to run away from home. I moved in with an aunt who lived in another village. There, I met and fell in love with a guy who made me pregnant. When my uncle found out he threatened me. I knew what it was like to be beaten up by my uncle so I returned to my village, two months pregnant. To save face my family insisted that I marry Marika. In 1988 I gave birth to a baby boy while Marika was in Lebanon. A year later, Marika proposed to me in a letter, which I showed my mother.

In 1999 Marika returned and we met several times, even though I never slept with him. I was faithful and so assumed he was too. It continued like that until one morning when he came home drunk demanding sex. When I refused he raped me. I never told anyone about the incident and didn’t see the need to. A few weeks after I was raped, I started to become sick as well as losing weight and hair at a rapid rate.