Thursday, December 8

How learning Spanish in Egypt helped me win my freedom

  • Marwa Helmy*
  • Special for BBC News World

Marwa Helmy during a visit in Madrid.

Image source, Marwa Helmy

I grew up in a town in southern Egypt in the late 80s, where almost everything was forbidden for women, and dreaming of a different future, choosing how to live my present and even deciding what clothes to wear was impossible.

We were born with a manual designed for girls: to live first under the shadow of the men in the family and then under that of the husband. And it is that in my town even the education of women becomes a tool to get a better husband.

Fear has been with us since we were little. Because of the panic of losing our hymen, we can’t even ride a bicycle. You cannot laugh or speak out loud. The look, the steps we take, we do everything with great care.

He never fit in and always dreamed of a different life that seemed unattainable, but I started studying spanish, a coincidence that became a tool towards what I was looking for: the freedom to be myself, to recognize myself when I look in the mirror.

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