About Sabatina e.V.
About the organization
The nonprofit organization Sabatina e.V. was founded in March 2006 and is based in Hamburg.
Sabatina e.V. provides assistance to Muslim women who – due to violence within the family, threatened, or already implemented forced marriage or honor killing threats – require the help of others.
These objectives can be achieved through:
Specific help for victims
Contact persons of the association provide psychological support and advice and information about the human rights situation. They support the women and girls concerned and provide contacts to protection facilities, at home and abroad, which are supported by the association.
Through lectures, publications and articles in the media, the public is informed about the situation of those affected, sensitized to it and educated about it.
The association’s objectives are being pursued, taking account all cultures and showing respect for different faiths. This is not about religious wars, but the right to physical and psychological integrity of all women.
Donations to the association’s projects are tax-deductible contributions.
Escape to liberty
Sabatina James resisted forced marriage and converted to Christianity.
A Muslim girl’s fate in Europe: Sabatina James was only 17 years old when her parents, who had been living in Austria since 1992, forced her to get engaged to her Pakistani cousin.
In order not to have to marry, she cut contact with her family, moved into her own apartment. When she finally converted to Christianity, her father threatened her with murder. Since then, Sabatina has been constantly on the run. In October 2003, Sabatina, whose name is a pseudonym, was baptized Catholic. The young woman has written down her story in a book. LiMa reporter Regina Bruns interviewed the author.
LiMa: What type of reactions did you get to your book?
Sabatina: Many Muslim women and girls, who were married off against their will, have contacted me. Unfortunately, they often do not have the strength to rebel against their parents or husbands – for what would await them then is isolation within Muslim society. As a woman, you are always kept away from the outside world and then, all of a sudden, you even lose your own family if you dare to rebel. The loneliness that awaits you in that case is really hard to bear.
Your own parents threaten to kill you: Why do they do that to her own daughter?
This has a lot to do with the Muslim concept of honor. There is a Pakistani proverb that says: “The daughter is the burden on the shoulders of the father until she is married”. When a girl breaks with tradition, the honor of the family is tainted.
Is this behavior by your parents first and foremost due to culture or also due to your faith?
In my experience, religion has been playing a crucial role – even though there are also enlightened Muslims. However, when I was in Koran school, I was always told that I’d only go to heaven if I met my obligations towards my husband. Also, I’ve met Pakistani Christians in Germany, who – though they come from the same country as my family – have a very different image of women.
Was that also a reason why you have converted to Christianity?
Yes, this had something to do with it. In the Koran, it’s always: tell your wives this, tell your wives that. When I opened the Bible, I’ve experienced for the first time that God speaks directly to me, although I am a woman. The most important thing for me is that Jesus has put love in the center of it all.
Do you feel that the European population is reacting appropriately to the phenomenon of “forced marriage”?
Not at all. The problem is that public authorities employees are not trained in the matter and, therefore, they have no idea how Muslims enforce their traditions here. Also, in Austria or Germany, there is mo much fear of being labeled as a racist when one interferes in a different culture. What is often not understood: This is not about racism but about human rights.
(Interview from the magazine LiMa (Liborius Magazin) of June 2005
My name is Sabatina James. I was born in 1982 in Pakistan, the country where, to this day, in the name of Islam, women are being burned alive or are being killed by their fathers and brothers.
My parents are Muslim. At the age of ten, I moved to a small village in Austria, near Linz. There, I was able to attend school, but it also marked the start of my martyrdom. The more I found myself adapting to Western lifestyle, the more I got into a conflict between two religions, Islam and Christianity. At my parents’ house, I had to undergo psychological and physical violence, just to be “free”. Instead, I ended up behind the walls of an Islamic school in Pakistan in 1999, under false pretenses. There, we were taught hatred of the West and I learned firsthand about the worthlessness of a woman. I was beaten and abused. When I was to be married against my will, to my cousin, I escaped and returned to Europe.
I converted from Islam to Christianity. Islam’s answer came down on me, hard: In 2001 my father and a Muslim cleric decided to sentence me to death.
I had to flee again.
Millions of women are experiencing the same torment as me. But most of them remain silent out of fear. I want to be a voice for them and use my organization, Sabatina e.V. to help them have a better life.
Media photos of Sabatina James
This is where you will find media photos of Sabatina James, available for free download to journalists. A specimen copy is requested. Thank you!