When she was 13 years old, Rania Farrah was offered the trip of a lifetime. An avid student of Egyptology, her family offered her and her brother a two-week trip to Egypt. The trip turned into a five-year nightmare that saw the young girl from Australia being taken first to Jordan and then to Syria where she was slated to marry her second cousin, who was twice her age.
Forced into assuming a religious Islamic lifestyle and subjected to beatings by her father and brother, a virginity test (which, passing it, most likely saved her life) and little contact with the outside world, Rania – with the help of the British embassy – planned a daring escape.
Over the last three years, there have been 60 reported cases of forced marriages in Sydney, with one such case involving a girl of just 12 years old whose family was trying to marry her to a man more than twice her age. Even though Australia has laws in place to prevent forced marriage, most girls will not go against their parents and contact the police.
Besides not wanting to implicate their parents in a crime, resisting such marriages by a young girl can mean death. Fortunately, Rania’s case did not end that way. The following is Rania’s story: