Ep 12. Child Bride: A Story of Survival & Self-Discovery (With Samra Zafar)

“People have this idea that child marriage is like a child being taken, kicking and screaming into a room and being chained or roped up or tied up, and then forced to sign somewhere. Force is not a gun to your head or a knife to your throat.

Force is coercion. Force is pressure. Force is that invisible, intangible cycle that is created around you, that if you say no, you’re damned, and if you say yes, you’re damned.” 


How many of us know or have heard about someone who has suffered from domestic abuse? How many of us know or have heard of someone who has been pressured or coerced into a marriage? This episode delves right into a harrowing story of how Samra Zafar was pressured into a marriage at a young age only to be stifled into an existence of abuse from her parents to husband and mother-in-law. From emotional abuse to spiritual, from verbal to physical, from sexual to financial abuse – there was no stone unturned.


Samra rose from the ashes by finding the courage to learn what was happening to her. Armed with knowledge, she began to plan her escape. Samra Zafar is now an award-winning international speaker, author, scholar, and entrepreneur who advocates for equity, inclusion, and human rights.


This podcast is campaigning against domestic abuse with: gov.uk/domestic-abuse, supporting the ‘Ask for ANI’ scheme, which allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support. 


WARNING: this is an explicit episode with adult themes and language. Please put your earphones on and listen to this in private. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as a medical or mental health advice to treat yourself or others, please consult your own physician for any diagnosis.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on these podcasts are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Not Another Mum Pod’s management or of any sponsors. Any content provided by our contributors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, identity (gender or sexual) club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

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This podcast is supporting the government Domestic Abuse campaign specifically in support of #AskForANI (Action Needed Immediately): http://www.gov.uk/domestic-abuse

Anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse and needs immediate help can ask for ‘ANI’ in a participating pharmacy. If a pharmacy has the ‘Ask for ANI’ logo on display, it means they’re ready to help. They will offer you a private space, provide a phone and ask if you need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.


The Ask for ANI scheme allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support. The scheme will be initially available through the 2,300 Boots stores across the UK as well as 255 independent pharmacies.


By asking for ANI, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can understand if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines.


As an essential retailer based on high streets across the country, and with specifically trained staff, pharmacies can provide a safe space for victims to sound an alarm if they are isolated at home with their abuser and unable to get help in another way.


Pharmacies will be given promotional material to display in store to signal to victims that they are participating.





Action Needed Immediately!

Do you feel controlled, belittled or isolated by a partner or family member? This is domestic abuse and it is never your fault. Help is always available and You Are Not Alone. You do not deserve abuse. You deserve support. If you are experiencing domestic abuse, Ask for ANI in pharmacies displaying the ‘Ask for Ani’ logo to get immediate help to call the police or support services.


For free helplines, support and advice visit gov.uk/domestic-abuse.

Intro, some questions that were asked and the ending




Samra Zafar is an award-winning international speaker, bestselling author, consultant, educator, and entrepreneur who advocates for gender equity, inclusion, and human rights. She has been recognized among the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, and a Top 25 Canadian Immigrant. Her book, A Good Wife: Escaping The Life I Never Chose, is an international bestseller and is now being adapted to a TV series. 


Nafisa: Samra graduated as a top student from University of Toronto with several awards and scholarships. She began sharing her story to raise awareness about gender-based violence and has since become a globally recognized expert on equity and inclusion, violence against women, and mental health. Her speaking portfolio (impressively) includes three TEDx Talks, and speeches to UNICEF, Yale University, Amnesty International, and many leading nonprofits, corporations and universities around the world. Her work has been extensively featured in both Canadian and International media, including Washington Post, Huffington Post, Yahoo, and more – {all of her works)  impacting tens of millions of people worldwide.



  • What was your life like before you were married?
  • How did your parents broach the topic of marriage to you, and what was your reaction?
  • How you were forced into the marriage?

  •  When was the first time when you saw things go wrong?
  • How were your in-laws towards you? How did they justify their behaviour?
  • Did anyone notice the bruises? How did you cover it up?
  • How have you managed to survive – what coping strategies did you implement to get through the trauma of your every day life?

  • How did you escape? What was the switch? Was there a defining event or moment that made you realise enough was enough?

  • What have you managed to achieve since; how did you find your purpose?
  • Going through spiritual abuse from your parents and your in-laws, how did that impact your own relationship with your faith?

  • What advice do you have for others battling pressure and forced marriages (men and women); any pearls of wisdom; how can we as parents equip our teens with how to recognise abusive behaviour in relationships?






Nafisa: In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, teenagers can wed at 16 with parental consent. Otherwise you have to be 18. According to Girls Not Brides, an NGO campaigning to end child marriage, One in five girls around the world are married before they turn 18. In Scotland, 16-year-olds do not require their parents’ permission to marry.


The UK’s Forced Marriage Unit estimates that between 5,000 and 8,000 people are at risk of being forced into marriage every year in England. Just in the past year, 29% of calls were taken by the Concerned Children Unit with the youngest one being just 5 years old! And this is in ENGLAND! Imagine that.



I came across a stat recently, where The Crime Survey for England and Wales found that by the end of  March 2020, around 5.5% of adults have experienced domestic abuse. Now 5% doesn’t sound like a huge amount at first but it’s actually around 2.3 million people! And bear in mind, these are cases that have been discovered – most domestic abuse goes completely under the radar. 


In the States, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. This means, in the space of a year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men! SubhanAllah!


Nafisa: Remember, domestic abuse is not just physical violence. Domestic abuse includes emotional, financial, pysochological abuse as well as forced marriages, FGM and so forth. This abuse can be from any member of the family or anyone who is living with you including your parents, in-laws or children. 


Tasneem: If you are living with someone who is hurting you, threatening you or doing anything that makes you feel scared, you are not alone and can get help. Y you can call any national helpline in the UK such as: 0808 2000 247. Victims in Wales can call the Live Fear Free helpline on 0808 80 10 800. In Canada you can call the Assaulted Women’s Helpline which is a 24 Hour Crisis Line: 416-863-0511.


Nafisa: If you or anyone you know is in immediate danger call 999 and ask for the police in the UK. In the event of any immediate danger, call 911 if you are in Canada or US.


Just to add, recently Muslim Mamas, which is a FB online community, supported the campaign #YouAreNotAlone and urged people to remember that if you or someone you know is experiencing or is at risk of domestic abuse, police response and support services remain available. At home shouldn’t mean at risk. If you or someone you know is suffering from #DomesticAbuse, there is help available to you. 


Some useful links:

UK: http://www.gov.uk/domestic-abuse 





Muslim Women’s Network: https://mwnhelpline.co.uk/ 

Women’s Aid: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/ 

Refuge: https://www.refuge.org.uk/get-help-now/phone-the-helpline/ 

Citizens Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/gender-violence/domestic-violence-and-abuse-getting-help/ 

Men’s Advice Line: https://mensadviceline.org.uk/ 

Canada: https://www.awhl.org/

Child marriages around the world: https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/where-does-it-happen/ 

Forced marriage statistics unit https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/882532/Forced_Marriage_Unit_Statistics_2018_revised_final.pdf 


Visit Samra’s links here:

Samra’s website samrazafar.com

Samra’s instagram @iamsamrazafar

Samra’s non-profit organisation Brave Beginnings

Samra’s book: A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose

Samra’s intro clip from TEDx YouTube

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