Girl, 14, sent to Middle East for ‘holiday’ – only to be forced into marriage

A young girl was sent to the Middle East ‘for a holiday’ – only to be forced into an ‘abusive’ arranged marriage.

Tasneem Fakhoury, 20, from Australia, says she was just 14 when she was told she’d be going on holiday to Lebanon.

She was allegedly told she would be visiting her grandparents and boarded the flight to travel to a village near Tripoli.

But she claims she was then forced into an arranged marriage with a much older man and was trapped there for four years.

Her grandparents weren’t at the arrivals gate when she flew in from Melbourne and instead a man ten years her senior took her to his home.

She claims she was forced to marry the 24-year-old man, who allegedly had a history of violence, crime and drug abuse.

Speaking to 7News, Ms Fakhoury said: "I was 14, all I was thinking of was the beautiful white dress and that amazing wedding I’m going to get."

However, her dreams of a fairytale wedding and living happily ever after didn’t happen and soon into their marriage, she claims he began to abuse her.

He would also psychologically abuse her, telling her he loved her after he physically assaulted her, it is alleged.

Ms Fakhoury then decided to leave but neighbours laughed at her saying it would never happen and she wouldn’t be able to escape.

Describing how low she was, Tasneem said she would stand in her kitchen and stare at a knife, thinking about her ‘pathetic’ life.

Eventually, she says her father helped her to escape her husband.

She hasn’t been in contact with the older man since last August.

Tasneem is now campaigning for freedom for other brides of arranged marriages.

Speaking about cases documented by the Australian Federal Police, she said: "That’s absolutely disgusting and disgraceful. A 10-year-old with like a 70-year old. Did they run out of women?"

Ms Fakhoury is now writing a book about her experiences in the hope that it will help others in similar situations.

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