I am a British lawyer, turned writer, and the author of the novel Stained – the story of a young British-Pakistani woman and her fight for justice.
The novel was published in the U.S.A. by Harvard Square Editions in October 2016, and is available worldwide on Amazon. It has been described by Booklist, U.S.A., as the “contemporary Tess of the d’Urbervilles”.
The story is about an 18-year-old British-Pakistani rape survivor and the lengths she goes to in order to preserve her family’s honour. This leads her down a dark and dangerous path from which there may be no return.
The book tackles a number of taboo subjects, including rape and ‘honour’ issues, faced by women in South Asian and Muslim communities. I was inspired to write the novel as a result of my experience working within these communities as a solicitor for the past 25 years.
Women and girls who are victims of rape or ‘honour’ violence, rarely report it to the police. Many don’t confide in anyone at all. Others who tell their family are often made to feel as though they are to blame.
Rape is greatly under-reported in these communities and the reasons are multifaceted. There are structural inequalities and women face numerous barriers in obtaining help and accessing justice. The problem with rape in these communities which differentiates it from the rest of the population is usually ‘honour’.
These women exist; their problems are real and Stained is a novel that attempts to acknowledge these women and give them a voice through Selina’s story. I try to convey what it is like to be affected so profoundly by the concept of preserving family honour. But I also wanted to highlight the issues around sexual violence and a prevalent rape culture. I hope I told a good story, but I equally hope I posed some challenging social and moral questions about cultural norms and practices. Ultimately, there is a feminist message; of empowerment, self-regulation and survival.
Excerpt from Stained:
“I looked out of the window, only to see the rain start to come down, when it had been sunny just a few minutes before. Sparkly, baby rain droplets gently fell upon the window, as the sky hurried in its pursuit to change from a hazy blue to a steely grey. After only a few minutes, there were large, angry raindrops mercilessly banging against the window. How quickly a soft, delicate, sunny outlook could transform into a heavy, rough, miserable riot, I thought to myself. I looked at my reflection in the window. How did I end up here? I went from being a happy, naive schoolgirl to a woman who had lost so much in what seemed like the blink of an eye.”
Additional reading: Abda Khan Gives Voice and Hope to Thousands Suffering in the Name of Honor