A Dutch woman in the process of getting a divorce from her Mumbai-based husband and fighting over the custody of their daughter has shared her story with the famous ‘Humans of Amsterdam’ Facebook page, about how her estranged husband has kidnapped their two-year-old.
Her story has been shared thousands of times on the social media page, with several Indians tagging Minster of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, who is known for her quick response on social media platforms like Twitter, and has gained the goodwill of the people of resolving the issues of many Indians worldwide.
Nadia Rashid, the woman in question in the story, met Shezad Hemani, her now-estranged husband in 2010 while volunteering at the International Indian Film Academy Awards in Amsterdam. “He seemed friendly and through the organisation, he got my phone number. He texted me, and every now and then we kept in touch. I don’t think you can call it a friendship but we were acquaintances,” she said.
Rashid said Hemani told her that was a businessman from Mumbai who travelled a lot. In 2010, he visited her and immediately asked her to marry him. Since she barely knew him at the time, Rashid refused, she said, but he refused to give up. “He kept sending me messages and kept travelling to Amsterdam to come and meet me. He made me feel special and put me on a pedestal. He said he loved me and I started to fall in love with him. When he proposed again, I said yes. We got married in 2011 and that’s when everything changed,” said Rashid
Don’t let #Insiya suffer.Kidnapper Shehzad Hemani guilty of child abuse&trauma!What is the largest democracy @PMOIndia doing?@SushmaSwaraj https://t.co/kXeNrZct38— Nadia Rashid (@NadiaRashid20) December 24, 2016
Things changed from the wedding day, when Rashid said she noticed a change in his behaviour. “He changed from a loving man to a dominant husband. He told me that I dressed terribly and destroyed my self-confidence. He would not let me meet his friends, saying that they were the types that did drugs and cheated on their wives. I later found out that he told them that I was an abusive wife who married him for money,” she added.
Things took a turn for the worse when Rashid was pregnant three years into the marriage. She alleged that Hemani was never there for the child and it felt like she was a single-mother raising their daughter. “I remember one night Insiya (their daughter) woke up in the middle of the night and we could hear her cry through the baby phone. He got really mad at me and when she woke up for the third time he said I had to go sleep in her room because he could not sleep.”
Nadia Rashid’s story on Humans of Amsterdam: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
She also alleged that her husband abused her. “I never told anyone because I was too ashamed. He would then apologise and that it was his fault. He would tell me that I was the better person and that is why I would be able to forgive him,” she said.
When Rashid decided to stop travelling to India, both she and Hemani agreed that the husband would visit Amsterdam every two weeks, she assumed that things would get better, but the violence continued.
“Once when he was in India, he didn’t answer my calls or call me. Once when he did answer, he said that he was busy. But I could hear the cricket commentary in the background. I then told him that if he didn’t make us a priority, then we would do the same to him,” she said.
After this, the husband sent a Facebook message to all her friends with the same message, where he asked them to meet so that they could talk about her. “I then texted him asking him what he was playing at. He responded by calling me a loser because I didn’t dare to file for a divorce and that he would sue me. He had written (to) my brother and said that I was going to pay for this and that he was going to shame my name. He said that he would tell everyone in Amsterdam and the rest of the world what a terrible woman I was. He ended his message with: ‘This game has just begun’”.
Rashid filed for divorce, but ensured that he had time with their daughter. “One time, Insiya was sitting on his lap when he told me that he would send his friends over to have me killed. I took Insiya and ran to the police station to file a complaint against him, but the threats continued. He said that he would kidnap our daughter and that he would take her to India,” she said.
She realised that her movements were being monitored and finally found a GPS tracker in her car. She then went to the police, following which both mother and daughter went into hiding. “The police attached an AWARE system to my body in case of an emergency. The following months he couldn’t see us because of the threats; we were legally not allowed to have direct contact,” she added.
One day, two policemen knocked on her door because they spotted a suspected vehicle. Rashid saw her Hemani in the car that had a child seat in the back. “We had to go into hiding again until we were sure that he had left the country. He kept filing lawsuits but losing them. Finally, the judge gave me sole custody of our daughter.”
On September 29, Rashid, who was living with her mother at the time, went to the grocery store. On her way, she got a call from her nephew, who was frantic. “Men! They took her, They took Insiya.” My heart stopped, Rashid said.
In the complaint filed with the police, she said that a few men dressed as municipality workers came and kidnapped Insiya. They beat up her mother and shot her sister with a tazer gun. One of the kidnappers, however, was caught thanks to an alert neighbour.
“As far as I know, she’s in Mumbai with her father who she barely knows. He has said that if I will go to India he will have me arrested. He is a wealthy and powerful man and he easily buys people off. He has hired one of the best lawyers of The Netherlands to defend him. Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch government we are trying our utmost best to get Insiya back. Every day from morning until night I am working on this. I will not stop until I can hold my daughter again,” Nadia said.
(All the incidents described in this story are as per the Facebook updates posted on Humans of Amsterdam.)