Fozia, Survivor Ambassador Programme.

I’ve given great thought as to how I might introduce myself to you. What would be most appropriate I asked myself – what should I be saying? A great woman once encouraged me to always start as you mean to go on, and with that in mind, today I open a window into my life.

I will write openly and honestly about the issues that matter to you. Above all, I am here for you, to show you that despite being in a violent forced marriage, years later being abused by my then fiancé, and being faced with religious and cultural barriers, I came out on the other side. It’s an ongoing process and by no means has it been easy, but it can be done. I am a great believer in women empowering women, and I look forward to sharing this journey with you. So, here it goes…

My name is Fozia. I was born and raised in Nottingham and forced into marriage aged 16 whilst visiting Kashmir. Following my fight to get out of my ‘marriage’ when back in the UK, I started working in politics to help other people.

Aged 21, whilst attending a political event I met, fell in love with and soon became engaged to, a man of my own choosing. I moved to London and we started planning our future together. But the feeling of new, positive horizons opening up in front of me was short-lived.

Upon returning to Nottingham I was stalked and harassed by my ex- fiancé. Desperate for a ‘normal’ life, in 2009 I moved to England’s former capital city, York. My location remained secret, even to my own family and friends (for their safety).   My days were spent writing, fencing (the sporting variety) and discovering York. This beautiful city became my haven, where I healed and picked myself up and carried on. It was time to start from scratch and build a new life in Yorkshire. I was determined to start again and move on from the past. I started applying for jobs, which was much harder than I anticipated, because of the gap in my employment caused by events. After many months I finally secured employment in a quaint little market town near York. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for….

Over the years I have held various roles – political campaign assistant, prison monitor for the Home Office and sub-editor for the largest Islamic magazine in the UK. When I’m not giving speeches in Parliament about Sharia Law and women’s rights, you’ll find me satisfying my obsession for Kate Spade products, in Betty’s tea shop writing blog posts and drinking Earl Grey tea (always with lemon), and continuing my work for various charitable organisations. So you see it’s not as glamorous as my Instagram posts!  I’m always on the go, keeping busy, for me it’s the best way. What can you expect from me? Well, I’ll be writing regular blog posts for Karma Nirvana, bringing you up to date news, events and sharing real life stories.

What’s my aim? To use my experiences to try to help make a positive difference in the world.