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[Voice from Daghestan] ‘I can’t get divorced. I suffer for my children and my parents’

7 September 2017

One resident of Daghestan told Daptar about the importance of trust between parents and children and the need for sex education for teenagers.

‘I got to know my future husband, Marat, while I was still at school. I fancied him straight away and a serious courtship began. For me though, this was a game; I was flattered by the attention of an older boy, a student. Three years passed. We quarrelled, sometimes we didn’t speak for months, then we would make up.’

‘So I finished school and we were kind of already dating, we were more than just friends. The question came up: what next? One thing was clear: his parents were categorically against him marrying a woman of a different ethnicity. Mine were fine about it, they didn’t stop us from communicating, they considered both of us to be prudent. Marat had performed namaz (Muslim prayers) since childhood, and this won over mum — people say that such a guy will not do anything stupid.’

‘We understood that it was wrong but we didn’t stop’

‘We didn’t express our love physically until I was 18 years old. Until then I had never been to his house when his parents weren’t home. One day we couldn’t wait any more. He was the initiator but there was no force — I was afraid, but I succumbed. We understood that it was wrong but we didn’t stop straight away, we did “bad things” several more times. Yes, that is how we were taught to call sex as children. Even now I can’t say the word — it’s awkward.’

‘But then he said that what we were doing was a sin, and that we wouldn’t be doing it anymore. Only it was too late. I was pregnant. Yes I had been nauseous, but I hadn’t attached any significance to it, there had been no other signs. Well I didn’t understand it even then. I went for an ultrasound only after I started to put on weight, and that was already in the 4th or 5th month. I was shocked, I didn’t believe that it was possible, I didn’t think that it could happen so easily. I thought that in order to get pregnant it was necessary to do something special, something that only an officially married couple would do. Now I am astonished that I didn’t understand, but in school we were not taught about it, in the family it was a forbidden topic, there were no girlfriends who knew about it, and back then we didn’t use the internet.’

‘I’d throw such a whore of a daughter out of the house’

‘Marat also got a fright. It was too late for an abortion, which was also sinful, and he didn’t want to tell his parents and have to persuade them to let us get married. His parents knew that he had some girlfriend but they were hostile towards the idea. And I was also afraid to tell my own parents. In the beginning I thought I would tell them. But my mother once talked about a girl who got pregnant outside of marriage: “I’d throw such a whore of a daughter out of the house” was her curt reaction. So I stayed silent.’

‘The stress was unreal. I continued to live with my parents and my sister, and I was afraid that soon everything would be revealed. But God was merciful: I grew evenly and my stomach didn’t stick out. Sometimes this can happen; I was lucky. And my parents were more concerned with other things: my dad was always out at work or with friends; my mum constantly suspected him of being unfaithful and there were endless scandals. It was hard to continue working — I had to travel to a neighbouring town. And that while suffering from drowsiness, fatigue and swelling. I didn’t know exactly how far along I was; I didn’t go the doctor. I trusted in fate so to speak.’


‘She cried every time I left her’

‘In the meantime, Marat had gone to Moscow and he called me from there. He suggested that I come there so that we could get married and then after a year or two return with the child. I had my doubts but eventually decided it would be for the best. But this would mean running away; it wasn’t an easy decision. And so I packed a suitcase and marked down the days. Literally the night before my journey I woke up at 05:00 in the morning and knew straight away that I had gone into labour. I called a taxi and went to the maternity hospital. They refused to take me — I had no documents, nothing. It was mortifying. They sent me away even though I could not walk with the pain. I leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. Then they put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me screaming and cursing. I also screamed at and kicked the doctors. I didn’t understand what was happening. Somehow I managed to give birth — a girl. The next day I ran away from the hospital. Luckily, they had taken down my details and phone number. I did not sign any documents giving up my child — the baby was mine  —  but at that time I could not take care of her.’

‘After the baby was born, Marat quickly came back from Moscow. Four years of personal hell followed. Our daughter stayed in an orphanage but we visited her once a week. She grew up in that awful place. Gradually she began to recognise us and call us mummy and daddy. Everything got worse and worse. She cried every time I left her, she asked me to take her with her, she said that they mistreated her and beat her. And I couldn’t do anything. At night I sobbed.’

‘He told me he would kill me if I tried to leave’

‘My relationship with Marat began to deteriorate. If it weren’t for the child we would have stopped talking long before. There was no more love to speak of. There wasn’t even any intimacy after these incidents, but he kept repeating that it was a sin. He buried himself in religion, he told me I should pray. I even started to pray, and then at his insistence, I began to wear a long skirt and a headscarf. He became irritable, suspicious. He got it into his head that I could exchange him [for someone else]. One day, he found me talking to a neighbour, a guy younger then me, and he was furious. Once the neighbour had gone, Marat shouted at me, he hit me in the street. Another time he few off the handle because I had painted my nails. I started to fear him, but I no longer had anywhere to escape from him. Once he told me he would kill me if I tried to leave. I don’t think he would have, but I didn’t break up with him for the sake of my daughter.’

‘One day, when it became really unbearable, I opened up to my sister. She came with me to see my daughter and then she told our mother. I came and my mum asked straight away “Is it true?” It would have been stupid to deny it. I thought she would kill me. And my mum could kill when in a rage — oh how she smacked us when we were kids. But she just sat on the sofa, without speaking a word. She sat there for several hours. Then she came and said, “We must take the child”. I’m so grateful to my mum for that support.’

‘She could not forgive her son, let alone me’

‘So we took the child and told my dad that a friend had gone away for work and had asked us to look after her. He didn’t even question it. Then mum went to Marat’s parents and told them. They were shocked, it was a scandal. Not so much because the girl had been born outside of wedlock, but because she had lived in an orphanage for four years. That is to say, what we had feared the most didn’t happen. So what would they have lost if they had allowed us to marry straight away? Maybe if everything had been different we would have been happy. But by this time I didn’t want to marry him anymore, I didn’t want to see him. But it was impossible to delay the wedding indefinitely — we got married and went to live with his parents.’

‘Our daughter quickly recovered and it’s true that she was spoiled a lot, though it’s hardly surprising. My mother-in-law completely took over the raising of her granddaughter, removing us from the equation. She could not forgive her son, let alone me. Of course she would not acknowledge any blame in the situation. I was considered to be the main culprit, so living in their house became more unbearable by the day. There were endless quibbles — I didn’t cook enough, I didn’t clean enough, I didn’t stand the right way.’

‘Let him have ten’

‘At first the issue was work, but then his parents demanded another child from us — they wanted a grandson. But how can you have a child when you communicate so coldly with your husband, and after work he hangs out with his friends? That suited me after all, I didn’t want to have another child. Only my mother-in-law kept pushing for this, she almost stood guard at the bedroom. And the result was that within a year, I was pregnant. Again a daughter. My father-in-law even said that Marat needed a second wife who would be able to “reproduce normally”. He wanted to provoke me, but I didn’t care. Let him have ten.’

‘Sometimes I let it get to me — I get angry at my mother-in-law, one day I even threatened to leave and she said to me “Nobody’s keeping you here but you won’t see the children”. She’s taken over the girls, she even named my second daughter, though I preferred another name. I don’t go out anywhere. Even if they agreed to give back the children, the vast majority of my relatives don’t know about the existence of the elder daughter. If they found out — it would be a disgrace for the whole family. I don’t think that they would kill me because of an illegitimate daughter, but they would definitely turn away from us, they would despise my family and that would be a huge blow for my mum. So as it turns out — I cannot get divorced. I suffer for my children and my parents.’

The article is a partner post written by Yuliya Suguyeva. The original version first appeared on Daptar on 21 August 2017.

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