A beauty queen has spoken out about how she was left feeling like ‘a prostitute’ when she was married off at just 15-years-old to a man twice her age.
Rubie Marie was married to the man after her parents, from the West Midlands, told her they were going on holiday to Bangladesh. But, upon arriving, Rubie, now 33, was horrified to discover that she’d been sent to the country to enter her into a forced marriage, The Mirror reports.
She claims that the marriage was arranged by her parents to repair the family’s reputation. Apparently, her 17-year-old sister had ‘shamed them’ after leaving the family’s home to marry her fiancé.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Rubie said:
It had never been spoken about, I had no inkling of what was going to happen. When my sister left home and got married to her boyfriend, I didn’t even know then.
I was 15 years old and in school and enjoying time with my friends. I was just learning about life and marriage was the last thing on my mind.
She recalls the first time her dad spoke about marriage during a family dinner, saying she was ‘mortified’ and ‘could not understand’.
Appallingly, Rubie claims that despite her young age she was forced to do what was ‘required of [her] as a wife’ and that she ‘had to be brave and let him have his way with [her]’. Apparently, she was warned by her cousin that if she resisted, she would be beaten.
The experience of having to repress all her emotions and do what was asked of her left her feeling ‘as if I was a prostitute’, and even suicidal.
Throughout the marriage, Rubie resisted in whatever way she could and was determined to not become pregnant, secretly taking contraception pills until her husband’s sister discovered them and threw them away.
Eventually she became pregnant, but fortunately an illness meant she had to come back to the UK for treatment. That’s when her husband said he was coming to Britain too, demanding that she moved in with his family before he arrived.
However, she bravely refused and, because she was a child at the time they were married, the marriage was dissolved.
Rubie is now rebuilding the life that was ruined by her marriage. At the age of 24 she began her GCSEs and later trained to become a counsellor.
Incredibly, she also pursued a career as a model, and in February was crowned Ms Galaxy UK in the over 30s category. Despite her incredible achievements, however, she says that some people look on her as if she is ‘damaged goods’.
However, brave Rubie refuses to allow other people to judge her and insists that her daughter brings her all the joy in the world.
She is like the sunshine. When you feel the warmth of sun on your face – that’s what she is like to me.
Worryingly, stories like this are surprisingly common, according to the Forced Marriage Unit, the agency who deal with arranged marriage. Eleven per cent of cases involved victims below 16-years-old and, in 2014, it was reported that London had the highest rate of forced marriages, with the West Midlands following closely second.
Out of these cases, there were some victims who were either at risk or already had been taken to other countries – 38.3 per cent were taken to Pakistan, 7.8 per cent to India and 7.1 per cent to Bangladesh.