THE BLOG

We Must Overcome Violence at Home to Go to School

19/09/2015 23:50 BST | Updated 20/09/2016 10:12 BST

My name is Faridah, and I am 17 years old. I left school when I was 12 and married when I was 15. Now I have decided to continue my schooling.

I have been given a chance to attend a school run by Plan near my home. My family does not agree, however, and they will do everything to stop me.

When I was 12 and a school girl, my girlfriends and I were often harassed by men and boys on the way to school. I kept it to myself, because I knew that if my family found out, they would keep me home.

But one day my grandfather found out anyway. He took me home and beat me. And I was not allowed to go to school any more. I am the oldest of six children, and I therefore had to stay at home, do housework and look after the younger children. I felt terribly sad and all alone in the world.

When I was 15 my dad died, and that made things even worse. I was forced to marry an older man.

I had heard about Plan's education centre for girls and asked my husband if I could start there. But he got angry and said there was no point in educating girls, since the jobs go to boys anyway. I wouldn'tgive in and made one of the teachers at the centre go and talk to him. It helped then and there, and for a little while I was allowed to go to school. Then he changed his mind, however.

He was often furious when I defied him and went to school, and he began beating me. The situation went from bad to worse, and in the end he threw me out.

Shortly after that he went to another town to work, and I moved back to my mother. My mum actually supports me in my wish to have an education, but says she does not want to bring our family into disrepute. She is afraid my husband might declare a divorce. And many of the men in our family pressure her to keep me at home.

I totally disagree with my family. I feel it is terribly important that married women and girls also can go to school. What I learn at school will help me look after my children better, and it will give me and my family a better standard of living.

I believe it is entirely possible to be a student while also respecting my husband and my Pakistani culture. When my husband returns, I am not going to give in. My teachers and I will succeed in convincing him it is a good thing that I get an education!

Faridah is a 17-year-old being helped by Plan International in Pakistan, where gender-based violence prevents many girls from having an education