Sold: Story Of Modern-Day Slavery

This is a book I read a long time ago and still gives me the chills when I think about it. It’s not a supernatural horror story… It’s a human horror story. One of the best and overwhelming books I've ever read.

The book was written by Zana Muhsen. This text tells the story of two half-yemeni half-pakistani sisters, Zana and Nadia, who lived in Birmingham until they were 15 and 14 years  respectively. At this age they are sold by their father. They did not know what was happening, as they thought they were going on holidays with friends of their family to this Middle Eastern country, where their dad was born.

After arriving to Yemen and being aware of their situation, they started facing a life of abuses, mistreatments, violations and suffering. Both teenagers were forced to remain silent, to obey their new "husbands" and "in laws" and to continue with a life that was very different from the one they had back in England, in a yemeni rural and traditional town, where women's voices remain under men's shadows.

In the book, it is very clear how strong the emotions that Zana feels every day become. Days pass by and months...and finally years. They start getting used to their new life, they get pregnant and they still do not know anything about their family, as it is forbidden for them to communicate with their own mother. Source

Some details about the author and the story

Zana Muhsen (born 1965 in Birmingham, England) is an English author known for her book Sold: Story of Modern-day Slavery and its follow-up A Promise to Nadia. The books narrate the experiences that she and her sister Nadia (born 1966) went through after they were sold into marriage by their father, Muthanna Muhsen, a Yemeni émigré.

In the books and in interviews, Muhsen states that she and her sister had been sent to Yemen under the assumption that they were going on holiday to meet the paternal side of their family. Muhsen asserts that neither she nor her sister were aware of their father's plans, although her sister Nadia says that her father showed her a photograph of her future husband, Mohammed, in the UK, and that she knew she was going to be married.

On their arrival in Maqbanah, Zana, 15 and Nadia, 13 learned by Abdul Khada that she were the spouse of a teenage son of the father's friend. Zana lived in a town called Hockail and Nadia lived in Ashube. Their mother, Miriam Ali, an English woman, appealed unsuccessfully to the Foreign Office for assistance, but was told that the Yemeni government had stated that as they were now married to Yemeni men, they could only leave the country with their husbands' permission.

In 1987, an Observer journalist, Eileen McDonald, visited the girls and wrote a series of articles portraying the Muhsens as cruelly-treated slaves. The girls begged McDonald, and her male photographer, to help them leave the country, and the media coverage provoked an outcry in the UK. This led to the Yemeni government giving the Muhsens permission to leave the country in 1988, but forbade them from taking their children (Zana had one child, Marcus,and Nadia three, Hassan and Tina are two of them).

Zana Muhsen remained in England and in 1992, wrote Sold: Story of Modern-day Slavery with the ghostwriter Andrew Crofts, describing her experiences. It became an international bestseller and was dramatised by BBC Radio 4. The picture of a veiled woman on the cover of Sold is Nadia Muhsen. In 2001, Zana Muhsen and Crofts wrote a follow-up, A Promise to Nadia - the true story of a British slave. Nadia Muhsen gave an interview to Melanie Finn, a journalist for The Guardian, in 2002 in which she stated that she was happy with her life, saying, "It was never in my mind that I wanted to leave. It's just my sister, she wasn't comfortable." Source

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