Mariam, 27-year old, comes from Afghanistan and along with her daughter, who is 9 years old, have been living in Greece for the last four years. Mariam was a victim of domestic violence. The problems with her husband began when both of them were living in Afghanistan. She tried to break up from him but she couldn’t. Couple’s relatives intervened to stay together, promising that he would “change”. But he never changed. In Afghanistan, women are considered to be inferior to men. Indeed, in the event of a divorce, custody of the child is given directly to the father. In order not to lose her daughter, Mariam stayed with him.
The problems got worse when the family came to Greece. Her husband continued to be aggressive and violent towards her. One day he beat her so badly and she had been admitted to the hospital. “I was used to all this. I could get away with it, but my daughter was scared. It was this time, that I said, enough is enough,” she confesses. With the help of the lawyers of the Greek Council for Refugees, she moved with her child, for a while, to a women’s shelter and later they came to Thessaloniki. She came to SolidarityNow’s Thessaloniki Solidarity Center looking for legal and psychosocial support. The organization’s lawyers represent her in her child custody.
The day of her daughter’s custody trial is approaching. But Mariam no longer feels the fear she felt before. In her country as she tells us, they believe that women have no power and that they cannot raise a child alone. “But the future has shown that a woman can do everything alone, without a man standing next to her,” she says and adds, “I want to become a symbol for all women in my country”. The only thing that she wants is to take her divorce and win full custody of her daughter. “I’m not looking for anything special, I just want a simple life and a job so I can support my daughter”, she states.
“A woman who is a victim of domestic violence in addition to psychosocial support she also needs legal support. Our goal is to facilitate the access of these women to justice, thereby enhancing their struggle for emancipation,” stressed Thessaloniki Solidarity Center’s Legal Service.
*Thessaloniki Solidarity Center was established and is supported by Open Society Foundations.