«We who have said no to the arranged wedding. At night I still dream that they will take me away “

«We who have said no to the arranged wedding. At night I still dream that they will take me away “
«We who have said no to the arranged wedding. At night I still dream that they will take me away “

Apparently like many girls who, suddenly forced into arranged marriages, rebel and often disappear into thin air. The case of john abbas, An eighteen-year-old Pakistani woman who has been missing for a month from Novellara and according to investigators killed for refusing forced marriages, painfully turns the spotlight on the phenomenon of arranged marriages, which also affects Italy.
Fortunately, some stories have a happy ending. “I was sixteen, I was attending the first year of high school and I had a boyfriend, Andrea – says Amani El Nasif, 31, born in Syria but living in Bassano del Grappa since the age of three, an Italian citizen since 2016 – one day my mother said we had to go back to Syria for a passport mistake: my last name was misspelled Al Nasif instead of El Nasif. For a letter, my whole life has changed ».

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Amani left happy. «For me, Syria was the one of the Thousand and One Nights stories. At first I was fascinated by landscapes. As soon as I arrived in my father’s rural village, they gave me more clothes to wear on top of each other. I put them on. Even the veil. I thought it was right to respect a culture different from mine. Then things changed ».
One day, he heard his uncles talking about a marriage: his with his cousin. “I did not believe it. My mother was resigned. It was she who had brought me there, thinking of guaranteeing me a more secure life than hers, abandoned with six children, by her husband, in a foreign land. I called Andrea, crying. Then I felt a slap. My uncle had discovered me. It was the first time I was beaten. ‘
Not the last. Amani spent 399 days in Syria. “Because of the beatings, I ended up in the hospital, but only when it was a matter of life or death. My cousin did not accept that I did not want to marry him. Whenever she found me alone, she hit me. At my cousin’s house, she literally stepped on me. I have come to attempt suicide. My boyfriend’s mom also sent some money to my father, who promised to send me back to Italy, but then he didn’t. In the end, a paternal cousin helped me. He convinced my father to move to Italy, he needed my mother for family reunification and she forced me to leave too ».
When she turned 18, Amani left her family behind and went to live with her boyfriend. After two years, the story is over. A few years ago, it was told in a book, with Cristina Obber, Syria mon amour (Piemme). Today, she is the mother of Vittoria, 8 years old. “The relationship ended because Andrea was always afraid that they might take me away. It was an unbearable situation. What happened to me changed us both. Even today I feel that I have not metabolized what happened. It seems to me that it happened yesterday. Sometimes, at night I dream of being taken away. “

Amani El Nasif is not the only one to be saved. Manema, 35, who fled Africa in 2016 to avoid an arranged marriage, found refuge in Arezzo through Oxfam Italia. Latifa, a Moroccan born in 1981, was betrothed to a friend of her brother’s at the age of eight, arrived in Italy at 24 and met her husband here for the first time. After ten years of violence, he found the strength to rebel and create a new life in Noli. In Palermo, Le Onde onlus dedicated the Matrifor report to the arranged marriage in Italy, also collecting stories and points of view.
Sopna, from Bangladesh, regarding forced marriages, comments: «It is our culture. When I say no then my mother says: for me it was like this, for my mother it was like this and it will be like that for you. If one says no or refuses all life is ruined. But sometimes it is good and other times it is bad ». Nandhini, born in 2003 in Kalavai, India, thanks to the intervention of Terres des Hommes, avoided an arranged marriage, at just 14 years old. In 2019, he told his story in Italy.
After her mother’s death, she was welcomed with her sisters by her aunt. «My aunt decides to marry me to a man who is twice my years, I 14, he 28, I beg, I cry, nothing. The aunt replies that she can no longer support me, her friends tell me we have no choice. ” Nandhini, however, the day before the wedding, finds the courage to pick up the phone and call Childline 1098, the toll-free number to report child abuse activated by Terre des Hommes in Tamil Nadu. They tell her that they will go to save her. So it was.


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