“He took me home, and beat me, and banned my education"

When Faridah was 12, men (both young and old) would sexually harass young girls on their way to school and Faridah knew if her family found out she would no longer be allowed to go. One day, Faridah’s grandfather saw a boy harassing his granddaughter, but his first reaction was not to protect her.

“He took me home, and beat me, and banned my education,” recalls Faridah. “Whenever I remember that time, I feel a lot of pain and I feel alone.”

At the tender age of 15, Faridah was forced to get married to an older man, but the hope of an education still flickered within the teenager. When Faridah asked her husband if she could return to education, his reaction wasn’t what she expected.

“My husband became angry, he beat me, argued with me and refused to let me go. He says, ‘What’s the point in educating girls? There’s no point because it’s the boys who get the jobs’,” she says.

Things took a turn for the worse two months ago when Faridah’s husband threw her out of their house because she wanted to go to school. Faridah now lives with her mother.

While her mum supports Faridah’s plight for an education, she is torn between her daughter’s right to go to school and her family honour. Sometimes things get so bad, Faridah’s mum caves under the pressure from male members of the family and beats her own daughter, because by wanting to go to school, Faridah’s husband could use it as grounds for divorce, bringing dishonour on the family.

“I want to see Faridah as an educated lady, but I don’t want to see her marriage end so I’ll try and convince her husband to let her continue her education,” says her mum. “Faridah is crazy – she’s determined to get educated.”

Doing it for the girls

Plan wholeheartedly supports Faridah’s desire to go to school and the organisation is working hard to provide an alternative to far-flung government schools through its Non Formal Education (NFE) projects. Plan’s projects, which sit under the Girl Power Programme, are educating over 11,000 girls aged 10-24 across Pakistan – including Faridah, Azizah and Nasreen.

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