From fleeing arranged marriages in Saudi Arabia to owning a beauty salon, it’s been quite a journey for one Middlesbrough woman.
Fay Khatri was married five times in 11 years, three of those marriages against her will – and the first at the age of just 12.
The 46-year-old therapist is now the proud owner of a thriving salon, Tamara’s Beautique on Borough Road, a happy ending to an emotional and often heartbreaking journey.
She said: “I was born in Kenya, but after I got married when I was 12 I was shipped out to live in Saudi Arabia, where my mum also lived.
“I didn’t know him and it just didn’t work and only lasted two years. I was divorced and then had another arranged marriage when I was 17 to my cousin back in Kenya.
“I was locked in the house, even my own bedroom was locked. I lived next door to my grandmother and used to speak to her through the window because nobody was allowed in the house. After two months my mother said I couldn’t live like this and took me back to Saudi.”
Two more marriages in Saudi Arabia followed for Fay. One lasted a year and the other ended after a month.
“I was abused by a number people while I was growing up and at one stage I decided that was just the way was going to be for me,” said Fay.
“But when my mother was about to have another marriage arranged for me, I just couldn’t go through it again. That’s when I decided to run away from home in 1996.”
Fay fled to Rome, where she met a Middlesbrough man who was on holiday there. They immediately decided to marry and Fay moved to Teesside.
After 12 years the couple separated, but Fay has settled in Middlesbrough with her two children, Adam and Tamara, who she named the salon after.
When she was made redundant from her job in social housing Fay was briefly unemployed, but she hated signing-on and was determined to make a success of her life.
Business is now booming at the former Kirby College student’s popular salon, where she practices make-up, massage, waxing, threading, spray-tan, manicure and pedicure.
“Going into the beauty industry is something I’ve always wanted to do and I had all the qualifications I needed,” said the 46-year-old.
“I’m here, I’m healthy, I’ve got my own business. I’ve learned to get on my own two feet and say no if I want to.”