I came to the UK two years ago to study. My parents are still back home. I was so excited about coming over here. I’d heard so much about the kind of freedom that young people can have and was really looking forward to experiencing it for myself.

Two years later and it’s like I’ve always belonged here. I love to go out with friends, and being able to come and go as I like. Back home, the young people in my community don’t go out and socialise with the opposite sex at all because the community frowns upon it.

Recently, my parents have been phoning me more than usual. They are asking me to come home for the summer so that I can meet some of the girls they have found for me to marry. They have been telling me that my marriage will take place in just over a year’s time, when I go back home for good.

When I told them that I didn’t want to get married yet, my father started shouting at me. He said that he had allowed me to study abroad against the advice of his friends. He said that he had convinced them that I would not change, that I would be a good son and get married on my return. I would bring shame to my entire family if I did not marry, he said. I felt like I had no choice.

I talked to my friends about what was happening. They were sympathetic, but had no real idea of what it was like to be in my position. I contacted my university support service, who put me in touch with an organisation back home that would be able to offer me help if I needed it.

I’m not sure what is going to happen when I return home this summer. But I feel like I need to face my family and community sooner rather than later. Maybe when we speak face to face they will understand, but maybe they won’t.  I just feel a little more confident knowing I have this phone number in my pocket, that there is help even in my home country.

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