London: A Labour Party candidate has told her extraordinary life story including her mother’s imprisonment for murder and the arranged marriage she was forced into at the age of 15.

Last week, Naz Shah was selected to fight the seat of Bradford West at the forthcoming general election, the town where she grew up in extreme poverty, becoming homeless after her father left her mother for a 16-year-old neighbour when she was six.

She has now told the full story of traumatic childhood, including how she was forced to be a parent to her two sisters after her mother, who had suffered years of abuse at the hands of a local drug dealer, was jailed for his murder.

The mother-of-three also described being forced into an arrange marriage in Pakistan, when she was under the age of consent, to a man who was violent towards her.

Mrs Shah became active in politics after being involved with women’s groups campaigning to free her mother, Zoora. She will be opposing George Galloway, the Respect Party MP, at the election at May.

Mrs Shah's mother was released in 2000 after serving 14 years for putting poison into the food of Mohammed Azam, a local drug dealer who she believed was intent on sexually abusing her daughters.

He had helped her to obtain a mortgage so the family would no longer be homeless, but demanded sex in return.

Mrs Shah was sent to live with family in Pakistan when she was 12 to escape Azam. She told the Urban Echo her mother had inspired her to become active in politics.

“Last week I was selected to stand as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bradford West, where I was born and raised, and where I live and am raising my own family.

“Later on that evening on the journey back from London my friend asked me how I felt. I responded I would know once I was in my mother’s arms.

“I also explained that I had many years ago read Barack Obama’s ‘Dreams of my father’ and for me to be where I am today were the dreams of my mother.

“I was only six when my father abandoned my mother with two young children and pregnant with a third when he eloped with the neighbour’s 16 year old daughter.

“I remember been thrown into the back of a taxi with black bin liners full of our belongings and packed off from the family home.

“We never really saw the end of black bin liners over the next few years as we moved from squalor to squalor, 14 times in less than two years, from back to back houses where the toilet was outside to rat infested damp houses where we lived and slept in just one room.

“My mother’s attempt to provide her children with the security of a home came at the expense of being abused by Azam over years. A man that she thought would save her children from an uncertain and insecure future, little did she know he would be the exact opposite.

“My mother had sent me to Pakistan at the age of 12 when she felt I was at risk of his abuse. “When my younger sister was growing up and my mother felt she was now at risk, and following years of antidepressants, failed suicide attempts and feeling desperate and destitute she snapped. She killed the man who abused her.”

Mrs Shah said she was forced to become a mother to her sisters, who were aged 11 and 13. She did not return to school and instead got a job laundering linen for local hospitals.

“My life now revolved around solicitor and prison visits,” she said. “I didn’t know how to run a house.

“I remember the first day I visited my mother at New Hall Prison, when I left it was like leaving a crying child at nursery for the first time, I now became a mother to my mother. We lost the house, we lost everything and the moving around started all over again.”

Courtesy The Telegraph