Then-Vice President Anwar Sadat, left, greets President Nasser in 1969
A daughter of late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat said in a recent television interview her father used his power to give her away in marriage illegally at the age of 12 to a man who later abused her.
Camelia Sadat told Dream 2 TV in Egypt that the president at that time, Gamal Abd Al-Nasser, served as a witness along with the chief of staff for her father, who was speaker of the parliament.
The legal age for marriage was 16.
Camelia Sadat with bronze bust of her father she commissioned to artist Michael Alfano
Camelia Sadat said her father, who was assassinated in 1981, told the official who performed the marriage that she didn’t have a birth certificate, “because they wanted to perform the marriage before I was of legal age.”
Her husband was 17 years her senior.
Told that two witnesses would be needed to testify his daughter was of legal age, Anwar Sadat presented Nasser and Gen. Abd Al-Hakim Amar.
Camelia Sadat said the only one who protested the marriage was Nasser’s wife, Tahiya, who confronted her father.
Anwar Sadat told his daughter: “Aunt Tahiya embarrassed me. She said to us: ‘I am calling the police. They will put you in the police car and take you to jail. What you did to Camelia is breaking my heart.’”
Egypt’s leaders, Camelia Sadat said, worked together to falsify her age.
“They made me 16, which is the legal age for marriage. But what happened to my life was the ruin of my childhood,” she said. “My childhood was completely ruined, because they began to treat me as a woman.”
She said the “harshness with which my husband treated me went beyond words, curses, or even physical [abuse]. It reached a very severe level.”
“He would explode at me, whenever he felt like it,” Sadat said. “He could do anything. He treated me just as he treated his soldiers, or maybe even worse.”
Sadat said she had two miscarriages, at age 13 and 14. To give birth to her only daughter Iqbal, named for her mother, she had to spend the first five months of pregnancy on her back, with her legs propped up on cushions.
“I received stabilizing injections, because I had a uterus of a child, which could not carry a pregnancy,” she said.
Camelia Sadat said she went to her father after suffering regular beatings by her husband. When her husband came to retrieve her, Anwar Sadat confronted him about the beatings.
“My husband would say: ‘By God, she’s a child,” Camelia Sadat said. “She hides behind doors and goes: Boo! She wants to play … I say to her: ‘Not now’ … After a while, she decides to hit me, and I have to defend myself. … Anwar Sadat would accept these excuses.”
Along with the physical abuse, she also told her father of starvation.
“I would say to him: ‘Father, I am hungry. I haven’t eaten in two days.’ He would go, take out money, and say: ‘Go and eat.’”
Sadat said her father became president when she turned 21. When she saw a newspaper photo of herself voting, which noted her age, she got the idea to sue for divorce.
In her 1985 book “My Father and I,” Camelia Sadat said her marriage was ended with her father’s approval only after she attempted suicide.
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