Chapter 1: To Take Control, She Had to Run

Nasreen Parveen decided to run for her life at the same moment she decided not to end it.

She had made it all the way out to the ledge of the high window in her mother’s house, her feet on that final dividing line between the solid world behind her and the drop into thin air in front.

But as she prepared to jump, she looked out and received a stunning, seemingly impossible glimpse into the future. As Nasreen watched in horror, another girl her age jumped from the roof of a nearby house. The young woman plummeted to the ground, hit hard on her back and then lay in the dirt, grievously injured.

Nasreen decided that the step into thin air, the drop and the dirt were not for her. But she was equally certain that she could not live the life that her family was trying to bind her to.

Nasreen was just 16, but her family had already arranged an engagement for her, to a cousin on her father’s side whom she had never met before they were betrothed. The bruises that covered her body, inflicted by her future in-laws while she worked for them, she said, were evidence that a future of violence and pain lay before her.

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