I want to teach. To an outsider, that might seem foolish, perhaps, as women only make up 5% of the workforce. To some, it may seem I’m lowering my expectation to go into one of the few fields open to my gender. But education is important, not simply to society, but to women. We make up 70% of students in college now; it’s the skills we’re learning, and the talents we’re honing, that will allow and even demand that we take up a greater role in our society.
Because my husband is living in Jeddah, his cousin had been acting as my guardian here. He was stricter than my husband, but he seemed concerned for my virtue, and gentle. Several weeks ago, he drove me home, and escorted me to my door. I bid him goodbye, but he did not respond save a grunt, as he seemed to be deep in his thoughts. He forced himself inside, where he forced himself upon me.
I wish I could not recall what happened, but I will choose now not to recount it. When he was finished, still he did not wish a farewell, simply grunted and was gone. I could not sleep; for a time I could not move; when I did, I realized I was as paralyzed by our society as I had been by emotion before. I could not come forward to accuse him in the courts, because my testimony would have counted only as presumption, while his would have been considered fact; it was even possible I could be arrested by the religious police, prosecuted for adultery and divorced by my husband.
After several weeks I came to understand I had become pregnant. I spoke with a doctor, but since the pregnancy was not a threat to my life, even under these special circumstances he could not terminate it. In desperation, I procured pills from WomenonWeb.org. I prayed many nights; I could not be certain if Allah or the Prophet agreed that I planned “the murder of a living soul.” I corresponded with the prescribing physician from the site, but it was not until I discovered that he was a she that my mind became clear.
I told my husband simply that his cousin and I did not get along; had I even mentioned that he was abusive, without detailing further the extent, I believe my husband would have killed his cousin. I did not want another murder on my soul, nor on my husband’s, and I feared we could not afford to pay his blood debt. My husband had one more cousin in the city, who agreed to escort me. At first it was humiliating to have a boy half my age guard me, but it felt like a choice, and that made me treasure it.