IFORHER’s Women Empowerment Series capture true stories of heroic women, who refused to let toxic relationships or life circumstances break their spirit. And, one such woman is Zaaria Patni, who not only struggled in an abusive marriage but also pushed the Government to change a rule which now allows single mom to apply for the passport of kids without father’s consent.
Zaaria’s heartbreaking story is about Mother’s courage and determination to give her kid the best life.
Her inspiring story shows how this courageous mother fought so relentlessly to save her child from spending life with an abusive husband.
While sharing her battle, this mother shared with HOB:
“His family and my family have lived in the same building for years but since his business was in Bombay and Dubai, I barely saw him.
This one day, he asked my driver which college I was studying in, he came there, waited for me to finish class and asked me to coffee. We ended up chatting for an hour that day and I was completely enamoured by him — he was such a charmer! His parents wanted us to marry quickly because he was 7 years older –
So at 19 I got married to someone who I thought was the man of my dreams…but he was an asshole.
It started at the honeymoon, where I wasn’t allowed to look anywhere but towards him, wasn’t allowed to enter shops which he didn’t like and was supposed to wear only what he wanted me to.
We were to visit our relatives in London, so he asked me to wear a salwaar but no jacket…and I remember freezing.
When we went back to Dubai, he didn’t allow me to turn on the AC and if I did in the middle of the night because it was so hot – he would smash my perfumes, candles and upturn my entire wardrobe. He would drive his convertible car at the maximum speed and threaten to throw me out if I ever disobeyed him.
Once, in between abusing and screaming at me, he pinned me down, forced himself upon me and 6 months into my wedding I was pregnant.
He hid my medicines saying I don’t need them — I was throwing up 30 times a day and all the minerals in my body had drained to the point that I couldn’t stand and that’s when he agreed to take me to the hospital.
The nurse there saw me once and said ‘I’ve to take you to the emergency room – and had you come a day later you would return to Bombay in a coffin’.
When I went home after those 3 days, he pushed me, I started bleeding and he waited 24 hours to take me back to the hospital. On the hospital slip it said ‘bled yesterday and brought to the hospital today.’
He only let me return home because my parents were at Hajj. When I came home, I asked him if I could stay for a night in my own home instead of his – which he flatly refused.
I was talking to my mother on the phone for 15 minutes when he called me 40 times, sent his sister upstairs to snatch my phone and sent me a text saying,’If you return to Dubai, I will rip your ass apart’ in Hindi.
That’s when I decided I had enough.
The next 6 years were hell for me. He sent me a legal notice saying he wanted custody of my unborn child, but I would never let that happen. So 30 days after I had delivered and my stitches hadn’t healed – I went to the family court to fight for my son.
My son has been to more courtrooms in the first 5 years of his life than most people ever would.
He bribed people from the court and the judges to prolong this case and if not for this one police man who understood me and helped me – God knows how much longer I would have to continue my fight.
In 2012, my hell was finally over.
I won all cases because of that one hospital slip and received nothing in compensation from him or his family. He seemed so normal, but he snatched my innocence away.
Please, don’t rush into marriage because so often what people appear to be and who they are, is entirely different.
10 years later, I’ve put it behind me because I have my son and my life is for him. He’s all that matters.”
After her divorce, Zaaria brilliantly rebuilt her life. She not only got involved in the family business but also started working as a fashion photographer. Within no time, she started to shoot for various Indian and international brands. Her work took her to various parts of the world and hence making it difficult for her to spend time with her son.
And, to spend more time with her son while she traveling, she applied for a passport for her son.
Sadly, while filling out her application, Zaaria found out that she needed her ex-husband’s signature for her son’s passport approval.
Despite numerous applications and requests over the course of three years, no progress was happening. Finally, she reached out to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Twitter, and it was at this moment, the government took notice of her petition.
The government realized that the rule asking for both parents’ signature for any passport application of a child went against the Supreme Court’s guidelines.
As per the court’s ruling, a single mom can be the legal guardian of her child, and no passport office official can forcefully seek the father’s signature.