Shiril’s Story from Safe Haven Halfway Home Mauritius

Date: April 3, 2023
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Learning to live with dignity

“They took me to the police station and I told them clearly that I do not want to go back with my husband following all the gossip, fights and beatings.”

My name is Shiril and I am 30 years old. I have a baby boy aged one year old. I came to Safe Haven Halfway Home (SHHH) in May 2022 after being physically and verbally abused by my husband.

When I arrived at Safe Haven, I immediately felt relieved. There was no one to scold me constantly and I was able to take care of my son. My baby boy also had friends to play with freely.

I have three siblings and I was leading a very happy life back in my homeland. I experienced joy and laughter while staying with all my family members. I fondly recall taking the bus everyday with my father to buy groceries and watching TV together. My father passed away last year and I felt deeply saddened. I had not seen my father for three years; it broke my heart when my husband did not allow me to attend his funeral.

Prior to coming to Safe Haven, I was living with my husband with whom I was civilly and religiously married for nearly three years. A lady arranged the marriage and obtained money from my husband for doing so. My first year of marriage was good. My husband’s behaviour changed at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when he lost his job as a boat skipper. He began arguing with me every day for no particular reason. He even prevented me from keeping in touch with my family or going to work outside the house. One day, when I was speaking to my mother on the phone, my husband seized the phone from my hand, pulled my hair violently and threw me across the room. I was wounded on my arm and it bled profusely. When my son was born, my husband did not bother to look after him.

My husband would beat me in front of his mother and my own sister and mother. My mother told me to be patient and to pray to seek solace amidst my suffering. She also asked me to return back home as my own parents have never beaten me and she could not tolerate my husband misbehaving with me. I realised that my marriage is founded on lies. My husband would always taunt me, by saying that he ‘bought’ me as his slave to serve himself and his family. He lied to me about being married twice before. Both of his daughters also used to misbehave with me; one of them beat me while the other talked rudely to me. My husband would also publicly humiliate me.

When I was at the hospital, heavily pregnant with my son, my husband would come and pester me there. He would only give me a loaf of bread and a water bottle when I requested him to bring some homemade food for me. My husband forced me to have sex with him multiple times. I took contraceptive pills so as not to have children so soon. When my husband found out, he screamed at me for taking pills as he wanted to have children.

When the lockdown was lifted in Mauritius, I went to work with my husband on the beach for one month. I had to wake up very early in the morning and prepare tea and delicacies for tourists. I also cleaned the boat on a daily basis and my husband would not help me as he was lazy. My husband would also shout at me in front of tourists. Every time I wanted to call the police when my husband misbehaved with me, my mother-in-law prevented me by saying that the police will not take heed of my words as they are related to my husband.

One day when I came back home after buying bread, my husband accused me of stealing the jewellery of his ex-wife and daughters and selling them. My husband then took my son inside the house and locked the door to prevent me from coming in. I did not have house keys with me and my son was feverish. I pleaded with my husband to let me in to take care of my son. He did not budge. On that day, I gathered the courage and called the police.

When the police came home, my husband tried to bribe them with drinks but the police officers were not fooled. They took me to the police station and I told them clearly that I do not want to go back with my husband following all the gossip, fights and beatings. The police officers were very well aware of my husband’s behaviour because they told me that his former wife also used to complain about him. Thereafter, I obtained my Protection Order (PO) and the police referred me to Safe Haven.

In terms of my hobbies, I enjoy baking cakes. I also like to listen to music and read holy scriptures. My son means the world to me and I love playing with him.

I just want a peaceful life and to return back to my homeland after obtaining the full custody of my son. I will be at peace when my son will be left in the care of my loving family when I will be out to work every day. One day, I dream of having my own shop where I will sell cakes and dishes from my homeland.