Last year, I wrote about how to escape an honor killing, and I did pretty much the same thing to escape a forced marriage. Although I wasn’t shipped back home, I faced similar restrictions and barriers. I didn’t have healthcare, a personal bank account or even reliable transportation. I didn’t have my basic needs met. Yet, I was nearly forced to marry a man I had never seen before. I wanted to go to college, travel the world, be financially independent and leave Islam. I was so determined to leave and pursue the life I actually wanted.
No one can force me into a life I don’t want. I live in the US where forced marriage and honor killing are illegal. I can leave my religion without fear of state-sanctioned murder or imprisonment. I can travel solo to nearly anywhere I choose without worrying about visas. I can choose where I want to live, what I want to wear, who I date, and even choose which personal beliefs I align with. No one was ever going to scare me into being Muslim. Trust. Being threatened with honor killing and forced marriage couldn’t make me a Muslim lol. I am grateful that I will never have to emigrate to another country as a means to escape death threats for my apostasy.
Nothing about leaving was glamorous. Working 60+ hours a week is exhausting, but I am so much happier. I can’t help but think about people who aren’t able to work two jobs. We live in an ableist, sexist and racist system that tells us we have to overwork ourselves if we decide we don’t want to live under oppressive violence. The fear of being on the streets was the only thing that kept me in line. How was I going to leave while earning $9/hour? Every day, I wake up with so much gratitude. Now, I can afford my monthly prescriptions, emergency car repairs and even a 2-week solo vacation to Trinidad & Tobago.
I know it will get better, but no one should have to endure all of that because they want an education, quality healthcare, reliable transportation, and basic freedoms. I am fighting against a world where women like myself have limited choices and must succumb to enduring extremes to avoid becoming homeless. Having the freedom to make reproductive choices, reject oppressive teachings and leave my religion is an incredible luxury. But it shouldn’t be. Such basic rights should not be luxuries that are achieved via exploitive labor. I hate slavery!