Following are excerpts from an interview given by Camelia Sadat, daughter of late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, which aired on Dream 2 TV on January 8, 2006.
Interviewer: How were you married off at the age of 12?
Camelia Sadat: This is something you should ask the late president Gamal Abd Al-Nasser, the late president Anwar Sadat, my father, who was the parliament speaker back then...
Interviewer: They legislated a special law for you...
Camelia Sadat: ...and the late chief-of-staff Abd Al-Hakim 'Amer. My father told the official who performed the marriage that I did not have a birth certificate, because they wanted to perform the marriage before I was of legal age. The official asked him: "Mr. President, who are the witnesses?" - because one needs two witnesses to testify that the bride is of legal age. Gamal [Abd Al-Nasser] looked at father and said: ""What's going on, Anwar? There are two presidents in town, and I didn't know?!" Father said to the official: [The witnesses are] President Gamal Abd Al-Nasser and General Abd Al-Hakim 'Amar. Then the official gave them the document, and they signed it.
The only one who had anything to say about this was Gamal Abd Al-Nasser's wife, Tahiya, may she rest in peace.
Interviewer: Did she protest this?
Camelia Sadat: Yes, she did. All the Revolution Leadership Council members came to her for lunch – and this is a story I heard from my father. He said to me: 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 Camellia is breaking my heart."
Interviewer: What you're saying is that the country's leaders at the time were involved in falsifying your age. How old did they make you?
Camelia Sadat: They made me 16, which is the legal age for marriage. But what happened to my life was the ruin of my childhood. My childhood was completely ruined, because they began to treat me as a woman.
This marriage taught me how to be independent, how to defend myself, and how to be a woman who expresses her opinion. The was just one reason for this: The harshness with which my husband treated me went beyond words, curses, or even physical [abuse]. It reached a very severe level.
Interviewer: He treated you like one of his soldiers, not as his wife.
Camelia Sadat: He would explode at me, whenever he felt like it. He could do anything. He treated me just as he treated his soldiers, or maybe even worse.
I had two miscarriages, at the age of 13 and 14. In order to be able to give birth to my only daughter, Iqbal – who is named after my mother – I had to spend the first five months of pregnancy on my back, with my legs propped up on cushions. I received stabilizing injections, because I had a uterus of a child, which could not carry a pregnancy.
The first person to learn about this was my late father. I would go to him after my husband had beaten me - and this goes to show that Anwar Saddat was a man of "domestic peace"...
Interviewer: Was there domestic peace?
Camelia Sadat: He was a man of domestic peace. His daughter has been beaten up, and her husband comes to take her. She is in a bad condition. He would say to him: "Why the beating?" My husband would say: "By God, she's a child. 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 Saddat would accept these excuses.
Besides the physical harshness, there was also starvation.
Interviewer: Starvation? You would go to sleep hungry?
Camelia Sadat: 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."
My father became president when I was 21 years old. There was a picture of me in the paper voting for my father.
This is how the marriage was over, because then I said I would sue for divorce.
Interviewer: So you threatened to go to court, and sue for divorce.
Camelia Sadat: The idea came to me from my picture in the paper showing I had reached 21.