This young Italian-Muslim girl, was sold to the highest bidder by her Muslim father in Syria to a first cousin and beaten and drugged for her Western ways. She escaped back to Italy to tell her story.
Complete transcript below:
"This was me, Amani at 16 years of age, before leaving for Syria. The 399 days in Syria transformed me into this Amani. For them I represented 'sin,' which for a woman resides merely in the fact that she exists.
"He called me a little whore. I spent 399 days in Syria, I would rather have died than live that life in Syria."
She counted those 399 days one by one. Amani is a Syrian girl 26 years of age, who grew up in the Veneto region [of Italy] from a young age. At the age of 16 her mother brought her back to her homeland, tricking her.
Convinced that she was going to Al Karatz, a village near Aleppo for only a few days, the time necessary to get some documents that she would have needed in Bassano del Grappa [back in Italy], Amani discovers that an arranged marriage has been set up for her, and they tell her that she will no longer return to Italy.
"This marriage was organised for me with a complete stranger, who I then discovered was a first cousin of mine, ten years older than I. He could do what he wanted with me, and therefore I had become his property."
Property of a rough and violent Moslem fundamentalist, but Amani does not give in, and tries to rebel against the marriage and oppose that way of life, but in response she is subjected to even more violence.
"All the times that he found me by myself he tried to put his hands on me and beat me up. And without hesitation he would untie his 'berim,' the cord which ties the headscarf for men in Arab countries, and he would lash me on the back."
And it is only the beginning, because for her, as for all Moslem women, life is full of restrictions, such as not being able to address men but Amani doesn’t know this and one day she greets a cousin, a simple gesture but fatal for her, that triggers the fury of her betrothed.
"He began to kick me and punch me, he took my head and smashed it violently against the wall, he put his shoe above my head: you don’t follow the rules, therefore I will try to force you into line to do as I say."
Amani loses her consciousness, but no-one assists her because she as a woman has no right to any kind of succour.
She is only brought into hospital the day after, when her condition is by now extremely critical. Arriving in hospital, they did not tell the truth; they said that I had fallen down the stairs.
"I represented the 'perversion' and the 'bad girl' arrived from the West, who dressed as a Westerner and thought as a Westerner. And therefore for them that was not acceptable; I was a form of 'sin' that they could not accept."
Amani is to be “re-educated”; she has to conform to the role of the woman imposed by Islam.
She, the girl in t-shirt and jeans, is forced to wear the veil, long clothes, one on top of the other, shoes and socks also at home, otherwise it is "haram" (sinful).
"Everything was haram. If I washed the dishes and they could see a bit of arm, it was haram. If a curl came out of the veil it was haram. If I smiled at a cousin it was haram. For a woman, 'sin' resides merely in the fact she exists."
Having become a prisoner of her family of origin, Amani passes her days washing up, tidying up and serving men. Her attempts at rebellion are followed by the harsh reactions of relatives.
"The more I rebelled, the more they dosed me up with tranquillizers, so many that inevitably during the day I was drugged up."
All actions have the objective of erasing the identity of Amani, that of a girl just 16 years of age who has become merchandise of exchange in the eyes of relatives. There are three suitors who offer much more than what her cousin offers, and therefore the father, who reappeared specifically to pocket the money, makes her gain 13kg of weight to raise her market value.
"My father put me on auction; he wanted to earn money, as much money as possible, therefore there were suitors who offered 300,000 Syrian lira, that is, about €5,000."
This is the last affront that Amani can tolerate. At the end of her tether, she attempts suicide.
"I went up on the roof of the house and brought a type of sharp scissors with me and 'stupidly' began to slash my wrists. I think that at the moment that blood came out I did not feel pain, because afterwards maybe I would have been happier. I am not sure where I would have gone, but I would have definitely been happier than living in that situation of submission.
"I counted one by one those 399 days when I lived as a non-free woman. Where I was obliged to wear the veil, the three long garments, and live a life that was not mine."
Beaten and bloodied by her betrothed, mistreated every day for more than a year, forced to swallow drugs that would daze her to make her “more controllable”, a slave in a small village, Amani never stopped battling.
"I clung on with my nails and teeth all the way to the end to recover that Amani, the only Amani that I really wanted to be, the Italian one."
Amani, thanks to the help of an uncle, manages to flee from Syria, after 13 months of oppression she returns to Italy, repudiates Islam, and reconquers her freedom as a woman.
"The 399 days I lived in Syria caused me to distance myself from that Islam that I lived with in Syria, the Islam that subjugates you, where the woman does not have the power, does not have the right to think as she pleases.
"She does not have the power to be able to decide, she has no possibility to live a serene and free life."