Former child bride Naila Amin is bringing her plight to light and recently visited Mepham High School to educate Leadership and Voices of the Past history students on what is a shockingly common and legal practice in many parts of the work.
Betrothed to her cousin in Pakistan at the age of 8, Amin, now 25, is working to change laws to protect other victims. Mepham student Raina Sarfriz read about her story in a Pakistani magazine and arranged for Amin to be a guest speaker.
“I wrote an article on her for our school newspaper and thought her experience would be beneficial to my classmates,” Sarfriz said.
History teacher Jacqueline Geller said she thinks exposing the students to different religions, cultures and customs allows them to be more socially aware.
“Naila's story of perseverance is truly inspiring,” Geller said. “In a world where people complain about their everyday annoyances, Naila's experience reminds us that we should be thankful and appreciate the freedoms we have.”
“I was so impressed that she was able to open up to us and share her story, said student Kristen Lasker. “I would not have been able to do that and not cry."
“It is crazy to me that they do not have gender equality in other countries,” added student Gordon Olson.
Amin hopes to one day open a safe haven for girls and women who are escaping forced marriages. She is also writing a book about her experience and is starting a foundation. She encouraged students to be socially aware of their surroundings and interactions with people.
“Speak up for someone,” she said. “Be the leader. Be that force.”
“I hope that the students feel empowered that they can survive anything and do anything if they have the right mind set,” Geller said. “Naila had and still has many obstacles to overcome and yet stood before us, with forgiveness in her heart and goals for human rights set.”