When Salma contacted me and asked me to share her story, I didn’t hesitate for even a second. Cases like this are so common. Many victims are quiet. They are either afraid to talk or just trying to forget the hell they went through.
Salma wants to share how unfair the law system is, how bad people can take advantage on a woman in a foreign country.
And I believe she is so damn strong fighter. Loving mother can do anything to get her child back.
Honestly, there is a big gap when it comes to child custody and women rights here in Egypt. I believe there are some amazing female activist and organizations, which are already fighting for improvement in this kind of law.
But here is Salma’s story:
The purpose of this article is not to accuse `anyone. I only would like to share experience I went through.
I did not forget nor erased those two painful years of my life, from 26.06.2016 until 16.04.2018.
Now, when I look back, I have different feelings and beyond the pain and frustration for what I have been through, I feel strength and joy for who I am today and how I live independently and in peace with my child.
But still I have a wish to return to my country, which is impossible at this moment, due my child travel ban.
The beautiful story starts in Italy at the end of 2009. His name is not Mohamed, but I definitely thought he is the best man in the world. He isn’t drinking alcohol, isn’t smoking and he was Muslim.
I decided to become a Muslim before our marriage, but after marriage he started to show me his ” authority “over my freedom of choice. He forced me to cover myself, even I had an active life and was working and wasn’t ready to walk veiled, but I accepted for peace in the family, even it wasn’t my decision. I convinced myself, that I want to do this and that was so wrong.
At spring 2010 he proposed me with a ring bought in pawn shop, (with name Roberto written inside, which was removed, when we resized it).
Life went somehow normal, I don’t want to enter in dark details which are not few, but in 2012 my little angel was born and my happiness was stronger than my sorrows .
He decides (here my opinion was not requested) that we have to return to Egypt.
He told me we have a home in his family building, where we were sending our money to decorate it. He also told me, that we will not stay forever there, but for only few months and then we will return to Italy.
But this was only trick to convince me, to follow him without any problem or doubt.
At the beginning I was excited for the new part of my life, to meet my new family. Also I heard how welcoming Egyptian people are with a new wife, especially if she is foreign and has no family around.
Once we arrived nothing was as I expected. I have to deal alone with everything. We had to spent six months in my in laws house, because our flat wasn’t ready yet.
I was still breastfeeding, my baby was nearly two years old she didn’t wanted to quit. I felt shy and always hungry at the morning, but no one ever cared, or ask my husband what time I use to have the breakfast, as they started to eat after 12 pm and it was too late for me.
No warm welcoming was happening, as I was dreaming and when I hear my mother in law calling her neighbor “ habebti “ and me she wasn’t able to call my name even, I definitely understood she didn’t love me .
By time the things between us became much tensioned, especially when I understood there wasn’t a way back to our old life in Europe.
Fights, threats and physical violence lead me to think, to take my child and leave everything behind and fly back to my family suddenly, without warning him, but I never even tried this, but I could not bear it here anymore.
There were two months of our lives calm, when I refused to talk to him during my travel back to my family, until my mom felt sorry for him and asked me to talk to him again and I listened to her.
I still believed in his promises that if we will stay in Egypt he will sort out his things here and we will all return back to Italy.
The biggest mistake of my life was returning in January 2016 back to Egypt. Things between us did not improved and tension escalated.
I got pregnant again, but in May I lost the baby. After this I felt so weak and depressed which my husband noted and offered me to travel, to spend some time with my mom. I agreed but when I asked to travel with my daughter, he refused she wasn’t allowed to travel with me this time.
So I refused and I told him, I will also stay here, I’m not going anywhere without her.
He definitely was planning to get rid of me and keep our little girl, which was only 4 years old, in Egypt, like she was only his and his family’s property.
Actually this is what these people considered about my child, that she belongs to them. My ticket was booked online and he said that our daughter will travel with a friend of his, who was also traveling to Rome but from Alexandria not from Cairo as me.
I agreed under big tension and stress, as I was hoping to see my child elsewhere than in Egypt. He took her out of home pretending that they are going to Borg el Arab airport and after one hour he came back alone and he took me to Cairo airport.
He was very loving and nice to me, to not let me feel suspicious about what he was already planning. We arrived at the airport, said goodbye and I ask him to call his friend to check on our girl, who I was supposed to meet the next day morning in Italy.
Stupid and blind and depressed I was waiting my airplane with a strange feeling inside of me.
Time came and I took my flight at 3 am and arrived by 7 am at Rome where I checked if there
was another flight from Alexandria. The police officers were looking at me and saying that I was fooled and that only flight to Roma was from Cairo.
I felt like having blackout. I immediately understood what happened. Tried to call all his family in Egypt and no one was answering, his phone was completely off.
After few hours older brother picks up and says my daughter is fine, she is with them and I should stay with my mom to recover after pregnancy loss to clear my mind.
At the evening he finally answered my call, next day he allowed me to hear my daughter. She was very confused, crying and asking “ why I killed the baby”, I could not even imagine why she said that and my mom was trying to convince me that I misunderstood my little girl.
28.06.2016 I returned back to Egypt, my husband was waiting me with his brother at Super Jet bus station. They assure me that my girl is fine with the family. Brother excused himself not to return with us home, saying he is tired because of fasting (we were in the last week of Ramadan 2016). So we returned from the bus station with a friend of my ex husband.
We arrived in Kafr el dawwar, friend also refuse to come up with us, it was time of iftar so he was hurry to go back home.
The house was empty my little girl wasn’t there. He asked me for my passport and throw my personal bag on the couch, took my house keys and 450 EGP I had in it.
He pushed me out from the house closed the door and tried to open my suitcase to take all my documents but thanks God he couldn’t do it.
I started to scream as loud as I could and all my neighbors came to my door, except the lawyer who represented him later on and his wife, they both knew what is going to happen.
The next days were terribly bad, I slept in his brother’s house for one night, then his mom’s and finally after she get tired of my questions she fired me out and I stayed two nights with some neighbors until I went to the police and prosecution to make complaint.
I thought this will bring my daughter back but nightmare had only started.
With the help of the local police I went back to my marital flat in his family building and I didn’t left that house until I got my daughter back after two years.
Was so hard day and night thinking, how she is or where she was, with who and how they are treating her.
I wasn’t able to make a power of attorney to a lawyer, because I had no passport until the end of August 2016. Then I had to solve problem with my visa, which they found in the system of the public notary office.
I took things in my own hands. I went to everywhere: police, court, national security, ministry of interior in Cairo, ministry of justice and every time I left Cairo with hope, that soon my daughter will be back with me.
I was recommended a lawyer in Cairo, even I already had a local lawyer from my area. The one from Cairo introduced himself as a specialist in child kidnapping cases, and he told me that he has connections in all the Egyptian institutions, which might help me to find my daughter.
I trusted this lawyer blindly and actually he did not support my rights at all. I WAS THE LEGAL GUARDIAN of our daughter and I should get her back without signing blackmails, which were planned by my ex husband. Lawyer knew about them and approved them instead defending my position, he BETRAYED the confidentiality between us, which is highly unethical and unprofessional. He took for his work 1000 Euro from me.
Before our daughter returned to me, her father made a travel ban and the lawyer told me to not even think, to go to court and ask to remove it, to not give him the feeling that I want to leave.
When I went, it was too late, first because the ban became final and second, I could not make an appeal before 40 days.
In 2018 I got my rights back and I’m with my daughter, but we miss our normal previous life, which we had in Europe. I lost my trust in people and I try to be strong for my child, hoping that living here in Egypt will not last forever and that blessed day will come soon, when I finally can go back home to my family.
Somehow it’s a happy ending story, because not all the mums are so lucky to see their kids again, after they were taken from them.
Salma’s only wish from this article is to get more support for foreign ladies in these cases. To treat them with respect, let them know their legal rights. It’s very hard to fight for your rights when you don’t have any support around you.
I also would like to add some details and question it.
Why father takes child and throw her than to some strangers??? Yes, Salma told me that little girl stayed hidden with some strangers, very local people. When she got her back, she wasn’t the same child; she was aggressive, beating her mother, using very bad language.
Other point. Salma is forced to live here with her child. No support from Egyptian family of her ex or government. She lives from financial support of her family abroad. Can anyone explain me the logic here? Why she can’t return back to her home country and live full quality life with her daughter surrounded with loving family?
Girl is attending local school very low quality, no supervision who is entering the school and sure Salma is living in non stop fear, that situation of kidnapping will happen again.
Sure, each case is different and should be dealt with in a specific way, but noone should take an advantage and steal a child from loving and caring mother.
And kids shouldn’t be victims of it.
IF ANYONE KNOW HOW TO REMOVE TRAVEL BAN AND SALMA CAN RETURN BACK TO HER HOME COUNTRY, CONTACT ME PLEASE ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE Red sea consult.
I would like to thank to Salma for letting me to share her story.
Names and places mentioned in this article are changed.