12 January 2011

Marrying Ameera

For better … or for worse

by Rosanne Hawke

Angus and Robertson. Australian, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $16.99

Ameera Hassan is 17 years-of-age, has just finished high school and is looking forward to going to university. She is a good Australian born, Pakistani daughter who knows that one day she will marry a man whom her father chooses for her but one she hopes she has a say in.

She has found that one of her friend’s older brother, Tariq, could be the right one. Can she talk her father into agreeing with her choice? When her father finds out she has gone to a mixed-sex party he feels he is losing control over his precious daughter and sends her to his brother in Pakistan on the pretence that she will attend her cousin Jamila’s wedding.

When Ameera arrives alone in Pakistan she soon finds out the truth. For years, her father has organised and planned her marriage. She slowly realises that she has been kidnapped by her own family. Will she ever be able to escape a country set in strict old customs, where she is treated as a second class citizen?

Marrying Ameera may be a fictional story but there are many truths woven throughout that it is hard to believe that Ameera is just words on a page. A story I couldn’t finish without a few tears and a sense of horror that it can happen even in Australia.

In 2005 a dozen Australian girls under the age of 18 sought help from the Australian Consulate in Beirut after being forced to marry. Britain saves over 300 people from forced marriages in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and beyond each year with one third under 18 years-of-age and 15% involving young men. For further information visit http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/when-things-go-wrong/forced-marriage.

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