Zalia Ali’s sister was a passenger on a bus travelling from Mbeya to Mbarali when in the course of conversations among passengers, she overheard another passenger explaining where and how to get legal aid.
Before disembarking, she asked for the passenger’s phone number and that was the beginning of the end of Zalia’s marital nightmare.
Zalia was married in 2011, and became the fourth wife, in what would eventually turn out to be a tumultuous marriage. She describes her early married years as blissful having been able to own a pharmacy, a mobile money agent outlet and trading in rice.
“We lived very happily, however, after a while his behaviour began to change, there were days when he wouldn’t return home and when he did, I would endure beatings. He stopped providing upkeep, and along with our son, we also lived with two of his other seven children, and that meant life turned into a living hell,” she says of her ex-husband.
They were married under Islamic law, and when she saw that, the situation was getting worse by the day, she consulted a sheikh, who went over to their home and spoke with her husband at length, but to avail.
He eventually abandoned her and the children, sometimes not returning home for up to a week, thus forcing Zalia into no other way, but to report him to the police and then to social services, because even food was now hard to come by.
Her father offered to help her with food, which sustained them for some time. At social services Zalia asked to take her child and leave to return to her parents, but he still managed to report falsely to the police claiming, she had disappeared with their child.
When she was summoned to court, she explained her situation, but for some reason, she says, he won the case.