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A young lawyer crosses continents and cultures when she discovers that modern slavery has long roots

Farah is a 30-year-old British-Pakistani lawyer working in London. She’s just ended a long relationship, and whether she likes it or not, her parents are working to find her a husband.
So far, so normal, until a chance encounter at a work dinner plunges Farah into moral quicksand. Her firm is beholden to Zaheer Mansur, a Deputy High Commissioner at the Pakistani High Commission in London and an old friend of the senior partner. At a meal at his house, Farah comes across Razia, and becomes convinced that she is being kept as a slave.
The novel follows Farah’s journey from the law courts of London to the brick kilns of Lahore, as she comes to understand the tangled roots of Razia’s predicament. She encounters generations-old arrangements based on bonded labour, family debt, feudal systems and “honour”-based violence, and finds corruption everywhere she turns for help. And when the authorities step in to return Razia to Pakistan, their actions have tragic results.
Farah teams up with a human rights lawyer, Ali, and the two become close… but can she trust him to come through; can they help Razia and others like her; and what should they do when find out the real, explosive cause of these disastrous events?
Razia is a literary novel based on years of research, but with the pace and intrigue of the best kind of thriller. The Home Office estimates that 13,000 people are kept in slavery in the UK, but until now their stories have not been told. Abda Khan writes with authority, sympathy and a heart-stopping plot that will have readers gasping until the very last page. This is Britain’s darkest secret, made human. This is Razia’s story.

An author and lawyer, Abda Khan works with victims of domestic violence, and was Highly Commended in the 2017 Nat West Asian Woman of Achievement Awards in the Arts & Culture category.
Born in Bradford in 1969, she was the seventh of eight children, and the first to be born in the UK, to Pakistani immigrant parents who moved over in the 1960s.
Abda was the first in her family to sit A Levels and go on to higher education. She studied law in Manchester, and qualified as a Solicitor.
She married in 1995 and moved to Birmingham, where she set up her own law practice in Smethwick, in 1997. She now lives in Solihull with her husband and children.
Abda also writes short stories, and guest writes for various publications.
Aside from her legal work and her writing, Abda undertakes voluntary work; with the charity Mosaic, mentoring secondary school children, and with Birmingham & Solihull Women's Aid, helping victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.
Her first novel, Stained, was published in America by Harvard Square Editions.

Reviews of Stained:
“A contemporary Tess of the D’Urbervilles” – Booklist
“Through the compelling plot and carefully structured narrative, Khan gives voice to women whose stories are rarely heard and raises a series of complex and challenging cultural, social and moral questions.”- Yorkshire Post
“… dark and shocking in places … Stained showcases what, for me, is the often almost hopeless reality of life for so many girls, and the ending, although sad, is refreshingly honest and real.” – Bali Rai, author of Dream On, (Un)Arranged Marriage and other books

Farah left the guys chatting away, went into the hallway and carefully opened the door, just as she had been directed. She searched for a light switch, which she located by way of a wall switch to her left, but she soon realised that this wasn’t the washroom at all. Rather, she had walked into some sort of a large pantry or perhaps a utility room. It was a decent sized room, and was well fitted with wooden cupboards and worktops which most people would be proud to have in their actual kitchen, and all around her were boxed and unboxed dinner sets, pots, pans and various kitchen gadgets. She was about to turn back when she heard shouting, and muffled crying. There was another door on the other side of the utility room. The noise definitely seemed to be coming from over there, from the other side of that door. Farah walked over and stood by the door, and could just about make out the conversation, if one could call it that. It was a strange mix of English, Urdu and Punjabi.

Farah pressed her ear against the door to listen.

Haram zaadi, how dare you ruin the food, can’t you do anything right, you little bitch!’

Farah couldn’t believe it! She was astonished, for she was certain that it was Zaheer that was yelling. She would never have believed that he could talk to his wife in this way, if she hadn’t heard it with her own ears.

She gently pulled the handle to open the door ever so slightly, mindful not to make any sound, and through the tiny gap she could now just about see into the kitchen; it was a large, well proportioned, show room type kitchen, with glossy, oyster-coloured, fitted units, black granite worktops, and state of the art fitted appliances. Zaheer had his back to Farah, and his wife was stood next to him, also with her back to her. And they were both looking down. Farah carefully opened the door a tiny bit more, and what was previously a sense of surprise instantly turned into a sensation of shock that flooded through her entire body, like a terrifying riptide. For there, in the far corner, sat next to the range cooker, visible between the gap between Zaheer and Aneela, cowering on the stone tiled floor, was a young woman.

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An excerpt from Razia

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Today, it was scorching hot; the mid-afternoon sun was relentless in its pursuit to spread its iridescent light across the land as far as the eye could see.

Razia’s face shone as red as a bride’s freshly painted henna by the time she reached the stream. Once she was at the edge, she took off her sandals and carried them in one hand, and with the other she gently lifted her shalwar well above her…

Highly Commended in the Asian Women of Achievement Awards

Friday, 12 May 2017

Commendation

I am really delighted to have received a 'Highly Commended' in the Arts & Culture category of the Nat West Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2017. Just to be shortlisted from amongst hundreds of candidates was amazing in itself, but this recognition is wonderful, and gives me even more confidence and energy in my quest for Razia to be published.

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