On Souad who was forced into marriage at 12 and on her “first night” as a “wife”
That night, something inside me broke, though I couldn’t understand exactly what it was. I was less than 12 years old when they placed that white wedding veil over my head. They had piled all kinds of duties and marital responsibilities over my shoulders, leaving me no chance to ask for a little more time to play or go to school.
They led me to my husband’s house and left me at the door.
I was reluctant and scared, and my fear grew with every step I took closer to the bedroom.
He came closer to me and immediately started to unbutton his pants. I tried to flee the room, but he followed me, shutting all doors and exits in my face.
To him, I was only a prey he was hunting for. He chased me until I was his. I was absolutely frightened. The horror and the pain were surreal; too much to take in. I glanced at the blood stain I left on that piece of cloth and wept incessantly.
Once he was done, I got dressed and started to feel my violated child-body. I looked at myself and hated what I saw. I only continued to cry.
I realize, today, that the child inside of me was what had broken to pieces that night… The night I became a woman in a child’s body.
Writer: Joelle Abd El Aal
Illustration: Tharwa Zeitoun