Most 14-year-old girls harbour innocent boy band crushes and spend their weekends at sleep-overs with school friends.
But when Hawaa Ayoub turned 14, she was dragged screaming to her own marriage and raped on her wedding night by a man 16 years older than her, who she did not know.
Hawaa, who is now 42, tells of how she went from being a prize student destined for Oxford or Cambridge, to being imprisoned in a primitive mountainous region of the Yemen, without electricity or running water.
Fighting back tears, Hawaa recalled the 13 nightmare years she spent in her forced marriage.
She told BirminghamLive : “I tried many things to get out. I tried running away. I tried everything I could. I tried convincing them.
“There were days when I felt like giving up, but you have your own will. You can’t just surrender.
“I was starting to lose my mind, I was on the brink of insanity.”
Hawaa was brought up in Wales and was taken on what she believed was a family holiday to the land of her parents in the Arab Peninsula state.
She had three children with her husband, but her marriage was considered illegal even in Yemen, where 15 is the minimum age to wed.
Luckily, the mother-of three escaped after 13 years and is now living in Wolverhampton.
But she still shudders at the bitter memory of her wedding day and winces over the trauma of her wedding night.
Hawaa said: “My father placed my hand on the groom’s hand, as is tradition, and I would snatch it away.
"When they put me in the car, my father was crying violently, which is an image that has stayed with me. He knew he was destroying my life.
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“The night was traumatic, extremely traumatic. It was terrible, it was horrible. He raped me. Someone knocked on the door and told him not to be rough, but it was too late. He had raped me.”
Hawaa still does not know whether parents took her to Yemen with her brothers with the intention of marriage, or were coerced by relatives into the act while there.
She admitted: “I still don’t know if my father planned it. I think he was pressured.
“We were very excited to go to a foreign country, it was supposed to be something pleasurable.
“My father told us it was a trip, that we’d be coming back as normal.”
The family travelled from the southern city of Taiz to a village nestling in a remote mountain range.
Within three weeks of arriving in Yemen, Hawaa says she was given the bombshell news by her father that she was getting married.
She exclaimed: “I didn’t believe him. I was thinking ‘You are joking’. He (the groom) was in Saudi, he was the son of an uncle.
“My uncle was trying to give me presents. He gave me a ring, I gave it back.
“My father started beating me. He did all kinds of things to make me consent to the marriage. He even threatened to cut my throat.”
Hawa remembers her groom being "extremely handsome" but she was "scared and angry" about the upcoming nuptials as she was only a child.
She said: "He wanted love and sex, but he did not want responsibility.
“He did not understand I was a child, I wanted a divorce, I wanted an education. I was held captive in a place I could not leave.”
When her captors refused to take her gravely ill second child to hospital, she doused the family’s stock of grain, rice and sugar with kerosene in order to be listened to.
But her victory made her husband realise he needed more control over his wife and moved her to Saudi illegally under the pretence of taking part in a pilgramage.
She soon found British consulate though, openly admitted she was residing in the country without necessary papers and orchestrated her own extradition back to Yemen.
Hawaa was removed, together with her children, and began divorce proceedings.
One judge acknowledged that Hawaa was too young to marry and was forced into the sham ceremony – but the fact that the couple had been together for 13 years “validated” the criminal act.
She eventually won and came to Wolverhampton in 2011 but it is victory that has come at a high cost.
“You are free from the marriage, but not free from the consequences of the marriage,” she says.
“I have forgiven my father many times, then he does something to undo all that forgiveness.
“As for my former husband, I feel nothing towards him. I don’t hate him for keeping me prisoner. I feel neither love nor hate, simply indifference.”
Hawaa has written a book about her ordeal, When A Bulbal Sings, with the hopes of raising awareness of the pain of child marriage.
The book will be available from Amazon on October 1. It can be pre-ordered from Kobo or Barnes and Noble.
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