A woman in India born with a black birthmark covering half of her face admits she’s been left devastated by men refusing to marry her due to her condition.
Naseem Banu, 27, from Jaipur, in Rajasthan, northern India, was born with a severe birthmark which covers the right half of her face.
After constant bullying during her school years, her adult life has seen her struggle to find a job and has watched all her family and friends marry, while she has been rejected over and over again.
She said: ‘I don’t go anywhere because I fear unwanted attention from people. They stare, they ask questions and make harsh comments about my condition.’
‘How can I go ignore them?’
‘I wish I had someone to help me cope. I wish I had a husband who could tell me everything will be ok but no one wants to marry me.’
Naseem’s father Abdul Salam, 55, who owns a local shoe shop and earns Rs 12,000 a month (£150), took his youngest daughter to several clinics when she was a child but doctors said surgery fees would be high which the family couldn’t afford.
Mother Salma, 55, a housewife, said: ‘We couldn’t afford surgery for her. It breaks our heart but the fees were very high and we were told we’d have to travel overseas.’
‘We had no option but to accept her condition.’
But throughout school Naseem suffered even more.
Salma added: ‘She was often teased in school and never wanted to go. She was nicknamed the ‘girl with the black mark’ and it would leave her devastated daily. We tried to encourage her and told her she was beautiful. We encouraged her to get a good education so she could get a good job and look after herself but after graduating no matter how many jobs she applied for no one would employ her. Eventually she stopped applying. Life has been very cruel to her. Her confidence is very low now and she fears going out.’
Naseem, who had dreams of becoming a teacher, spends every day indoors. She either looks after the family or helps her mother cook or clean the house.
If she does step outside she wears a burqa to cover her face so no one sees her mark.
She said: ‘I avoid speaking to people now a days.’
‘I feel I am being judged all the time so I’d rather not speak to anyone.’
‘I hate seeing myself like this. When I sit in front of the mirror to comb my hair or apply kohl pencil on my eyes I feel awkward. I don’t like looking at myself. I always ask God why has he made me like this? Am I being punished for something? I wish the mark was on some other part of my body. A mark on your face invites direct and unwanted attention. I wonder why it was on my face? I often dream about looking as beautiful as other girls.’
But over the last few years Naseem, who has an older sister and brother, has also faced constant rejection from men.
‘More than three men have rejected me,’ she said. ‘I want to get married just like my siblings and cousins. I want to be a bride and wear a nice dress and apply beautiful make-up on my face. I wish there was someone who would like to marry me.’
Salma often cries when she’s on her own and wishes there was more she could do for her youngest daughter.
‘You can’t describe every pain and emotion in words,’ she said. ‘Certain emotions can kill your insides and that’s what’s happening to me every time I think of my daughter’s life and future. I see her suffering every day.’
‘I wonder if I’ll ever see her smile and be happy.’
Naseem, who has a four-year-old niece, Maseera, who also has a small birthmark on her chin, pins all her hopes on one day finding affordable surgery.
Naseem added: ‘I want to look beautiful and live a normal life like other people. I wish to work like other girls and be successful in life. There must be someone out there who can help me. I read about surgeries and what doctors can do. I can only wish someone can help me and fulfill my dreams.’