For the last 3 months we have been trying to help an ambitious girl called Zara but the progress we have made is simply not substantial enough. We need help and Zara needs help.
Zara is a zealous, idealistic and passionate young woman who deserves a real chance at life. As a modern woman she appreciates the incredible value of education, a right that has been denied to her over and over again on the basis that she is a woman, on the basis of religion. She is living a nightmare in a Middle Eastern country, held against her will and imprisoned within her family home. Over the past 3 months, Zara has shared extensive evidence, including a 77 page document and numerous video and audio files detailing events of abuse since 2007 – a hell she has been trying to escape.

With an abusive father who bends and twists the rules of religion to accommodate his rage and degrade her, two brothers who don’t hesitate to conduct their father’s wishes and a frantic mother who is too afraid to confront her husband, Zara’s chance at a future is bleak. From being burnt to being beaten over and over again for simple things like going for a walk, Zara has lived in fear of her family for as long as she can remember. She can never forget how her father handled her decision of not wearing the veil.

“When I was in my senior year in high school, I had decided to remove the veil. Two weeks into my removing only the niqab, my dad accused me of having an affair. I responded by saying that I would swear on the qura’an that I didn’t have a boyfriend. Sensing defeat my dad hit me on my head and warned me not to talk back at him. My dad prevented me from going to school but I went with my brothers, nevertheless. When my dad found out, he came to the school and took me and my brothers back home. My mom beat us with a stick and my dad beat me with a belt.”

Soon after this incident, Zara was prevented from attending school and was made to do chores at home while her family watched TV or engaged in some other pastime. After endless begging and persuasion  Zara’s parents allowed her to apply for a BSc program that doesn’t let her anywhere near realising her dream of studying medicine.

Zara’s father has confiscated her passport squashing any hope for her to make her own life. This infringes on  her legal right to be in possession of her identification documents.

Zara claims:
“My dad rushed into the balcony where I usually studied and started beating me savagely and mocking my attempt at securing my passport. I managed to stumble back inside the house while he followed me, all the while hitting, kicking and slandering me. I went into my brothers’ room since I’m not allowed one of my own. The beating continued. When they didn’t find the passport, my dad ordered my brothers to bring a stick. They brought in a wicket that is used on the cricket pitch. He beat me with it, grabbed my hair and smashed my head against the wall repeatedly.”

All of Zara’s attempts to escape failed. The police has been unable and unwilling to help her case. The religious cleric advised her parents more than once that mistreating her in such a way was against all moral values and wouldn’t earn them any respects. However, these insights failed to steer Zara’s parents away from torturing her. She continued being verbally, mentally and physically abused on a regular basis.  Zara coordinated with friends and authorities at university to find a way out but interfacing with authorities is a difficult task as issues of domestic violence are considered taboo and a family concern. The police initially seemed to show interest by taking account of the events separately from Zara and from her father but eventually it amounted to nothing.

In her own words, here’s what happened with the police:

“When the police arrived I was still in the balcony and my mom was busy telling them all the “atrocities” that I had committed against them. They asked for me, and I went out and was confronted by the police with the question,” They don’t look like they want to kill you”. I was shocked beyond words. I knew my parents had this quality of manipulating people but I hadn’t expected the police to be manipulated so easily.”

This is just a snapshot of what Zara has to live through everyday. Just a few days ago, her brother hit her and left her with bruises all over her face. She is nothing but a punching bag to them. We need to help her now as she is being threatened to be forcibly married soon. Once she is married, it will become legally complicated to get her out due to the law of the country she is based in!

CHAYN’S ESCAPE PLAN: Funds raised will help her get out of the country by paying for her flight ticket and build her asylum case as she is at risk of persecution and honour killing if she is found out.

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