I remember the day my worst fear became my reality. I remember praying for my father as they buried him. I remember feeling heartbroken and hopeless. I remember holding back my tears in front of my brother, just so I can be strong for him. I remember being dragged out of my father’s funeral by strange men and being thrown into the back seat of a car. I remember the panic and fear, it’s the same panic and fear I feel every time I see my husband. I’ll never be able to forget the way he carried me out of the car, as if we were happy newlyweds as he walked me through the threshold of his house. Everyone was delighted as if I asked for this, as if I wasn’t just mourning my father just moments ago.

I remember the exact moment they brought out the white head scarf, or as I’ve come to know it, my chains, to keep me in this prison forever.

They call Ala Kachuu romantic, they call it tradition. Men kidnapping girls in the middle of the streets and forcing them into a marriage. Men locking the girl in a room overnight so that the neighbours believe that they’ve had sex and if she were to leave the next morning, it would bring shame upon the community and their family. Mothers and grandmothers of the son, shaming the girl to stay in this forced marriage.

Girls that want to become doctors and scholars; that want to receive an education. But are forced to stay with men that kidnapped them.

Girls are taken violently from their home, or like me, their fathers funerals.

Girls are raped and beaten by their ‘husbands’ until they’ve had enough so they commit suicide. Because death to them is a kindness.

Are we not human? Surely, if we were human, we’d be given the opportunity to choose our lives, to not be subjected by a man’s desires as if there are no rules for them. Are we nothing to them but mere dolls? As if they can pick us up from the street and take us home to play with.

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