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The caged bird sings

This is a space where you can hear different voices; our staff and volunteers who have kept the Centre going over the last 40 years, our friends, colleagues and supporters from across the violence against women sector, and people who have used our services and want to share their experiences.

A Ruby project service user

The Ruby project is a Glasgow Rape Crisis service that offers support to women and girls aged 13 and over who have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives, whether it happened in the UK or in another Rubycountry. Regardless of immigration status or whether a woman has access to public finds, we offer culturally sensitive face to face support and we can provide a female interpreter if that is needed. We also have an independent sexual violence advocacy worker available who works specifically with asylum and refugee women on practical issues.This blog is written by a Ruby project service user and for her safety we have removed words that might identify her.

Hello, this is my first blog and I’m quite new to this, so apologies in advance if I don’t follow proper blogging etiquette. So… Hi everyone. I guess I should begin by stating the obvious about myself which is I am a human. Before I digress about the various labels society has thrust upon me over my lifetime, I felt that I should re-emphasise that, that my real label is a human being. Because in the grand scheme of things, in the blanket of universal truths, or in the presence of a higher power bigger than us, this world and this universe, that is the only label that rings true and it is the only label that matters, that I am a human. I guess saying that makes me sound like I’m very old and I’ve lived a lifetime. Well I’m not really old, but I do feel like I’ve lived a lifetime.

When I was a kid I loved fairy tales, and not just fairy tales but all kinds of stories, fiction, classics, super heroes, anything that involved magic. Magic was my dream, my life, my hope. These stories always had a common theme, someone down on their luck, who’s lost all hope and suddenly… they’re rescued by magic. Perhaps I loved these stories because I could see myself in the characters, or because they gave me a kind of hope or because I simply enjoyed the pleasure of literature. In any case, they did give me a kind of hope and even if it was hope in magic, nonetheless it was hope and that hope kept me alive. It kept alive my innocence, my light, my belief in people, that goodness in you which is so untarnished which every human being must have. I think that might have been my first label, “a child” and in ****** where I grew up, “child” is just a euphemism for “someone’s property”. Inside my house, my real role was that of a punching bag, my label was just “guilty”. What I was actually guilty of, I used to think about it over and over again back then and I still think about it even now. Truth is I’ll never know. Whether I was guilty of being a girl, or guilty of just being born or because I was another living reminder of why my parents could not escape their marriage, I’ll never know. I was guilty for a number of reasons, but for now I want to talk about being guilty because I was a girl, specifically a girl in ******. When people hear “girl in ******”, they often think Forced Marriage. People often see Forced Marriage as something that happens to a girl who is barely almost grown up, but the actual process of Forced Marriage begins much younger than that.

I had to study well in school, I was told so I would get a good husband. I had to be a good conversationalist so I would get a good husband. I could have only a “certain kind” of friends, so that I would have a good name in peoples’ minds and only then they would bring me good proposals. I had to sit “properly like a girl” so I could get a good husband. I had to eat properly so I could get a good husband. I could not go out with school friends because then I would be seen as impure and having had illicit relations with all the men in the town and this would not get me a good husband. While I had all my body parts when I was born, because of my gender I lost my tongue, my arms and my legs. I could speak only when deemed appropriate, move when deemed appropriate, walk when deemed appropriate; deemed appropriate by relatives and other people whose existence I had barely any knowledge of, but who felt I owed them my entire life because they would bring me a good husband and thereby save me from my fault of being a girl. As this future bride was growing up time became my source of comfort. I thought I had time. I thought I always had time. As time passed and days went by, it never happened. Nothing happened. I thought it wouldn’t happen. Not to me. I was naive. I made myself believe that it wouldn’t happen to me. I thought life would have a different plan for me. After all, I believed in magic didn’t I? Maybe having had hope in the face of hopelessness would see me rewarded.

I was there when it happened to my friend. We were just staying awake at 2 in the morning having planned beforehand to “study”, but then decided not to, because we just had more important things to talk about than maths. She got a sudden phone call and just like that her life was over. It was her cousin who called her to tell her she was engaged to someone because her parents didn’t even have the courtesy to let her know. I didn’t want to believe what was happening to my friend as I watched while she hid back her tears and her emotions and put on as brave a face as she could. While I was sad for her, I felt somehow relieved that I’d escaped that fate, that I’d evaded it. I was a fool. Not long after hers’ it was my turn. My parents had at least the decency to tell me what they’d done to my face, unlike my friends’. I’d always dreamed of when this day would come and how I’d react. And then when it did happen, I couldn’t stop crying…. And I never cried. Too bad it fell on deaf ears. No matter how much I said no, no matter how much I cried or begged or stormed angrily, it didn’t matter. If it wasn’t clear before, it became imminently clear then, how much my parents saw me as a mere commodity and burden. My life had changed. One day I was in my room listening to Coldplay, dreaming of becoming a rock star and traveling the world and meeting the Dalai Lama and the next day I was engaged to be married to someone in a few months, whose existence I’d been made aware of only a few moments ago; and then to be shipped off to somewhere abroad only to never use my skills and education, stay at home and produce children within the first years of marriage.

I did something no one I know has done. I ran away the first chance I got. I never asked for any of this, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Circumstances that were not of my choosing led me to claim asylum. I didn’t do it because I was bored and had nothing better to do.

What they don’t tell you when you claim asylum is that in addition to claiming asylum, you are also signing away your mental health. If I could count how often I’d thought of ending my life… as if once wasn’t enough. You don’t have any answers. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Everything can be taken from you at any time. The British government says they completely disapprove of Forced marriage from a moral stand point. Make a claim for asylum and you will soon realise that it applies only to British women, because as far as Home Office is concerned, if you’re not British you’re not human.

People have done terrible things to me. I have done nothing wrong and yet Home Office chooses to punish me. They get to make outrageous claims and downright lies such as ****** is a safe place to return to, and they get away with it and they suffer no consequence as a result. Anyone who knows anything about ****** would realise that Home Office is trying to send me to my death bed. Why do they get to make such life or death decisions? Why do they have so much power over my life? I’ve heard that it’s not just me. They treat everyone this way. It’s almost as if they enjoy torturing people, particularly people who are frightened and scared and have no way to defend than themselves. It’s been a year since I claimed asylum and today when I look at my reflection in the mirror, I don’t recognise myself anymore. I don’t look like me, I don’t talk like me, I don’t walk, sit or stand like me. Home Office has the power to take whatever hope I have of a better life away from me. Not only do they have that power, they use it rather happily and without a moment’s hesitation. It doesn’t get any better with judges. They’re just as bad. The concept of human rights is not actually that recent. People in the time of Socrates knew what they were. Thousands of years later and still we have no better grasp of it. It shocks me if not frightens me to see how much cruelty one human being can show to another.

“Asylum seeker” is the latest in my long series of labels and in reality, the situation is more in accordance with a prisoner in death row than with someone fleeing persecution. When I look outside my window, I don’t know if the world I see outside is real or whether it will vanish in a few moments. That’s how fleeting the Home Office have made my life to be. They’ve taken away my life, my hope, my dreams and because of them my life is in limbo and I don’t know how to make peace with and move on from the situation that originally brought me here (as if that wasn’t bad enough). They are the ones that have made me feel like a fool for trying to defend what I thought were my human rights.

In short, what I have to say about the asylum system is this. When I walked into the court room, I noticed an emblem with the words engraved on it “Dieu et mon Droit”. How ironic is it then that there were no rights accorded to me and there was no God in that court room. Just someone who wants to play God.

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<a href="http://emailsup on July 5 2017 at 11:16

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