24 Case Study Number 15: Ayesha and Kabir




Ayesha Kabir

Age at time of marriage 

25 27

Age * 

31 33

Country of Origin  

Bangladesh Bangladesh


Muslim Muslim


Undergraduate Postgraduate

English language ability 

Proficient Proficient

Employment before migration  

Student Student


Unemployed IT

Category under which immigrated 

No Information Available Family Class: Ayesha sponsored Kabir under the Spousal Sponsorship program

Immigration status* 

Citizen Permanent Resident (2005)

Number of years of marriage: 6


  • Son: Salim (4 years old)

*At time of the Family Court application


Pre-Migration History

Ayesha ’s birth family immigrated to Canada from Bangladesh. Her family followed Sufism, a spiritual form of Islam. At the time of her marriage, Ayesha was a university student. She was in the process of completing her B.A., and had already been living in Toronto for four years with her family. Ayesha is a talented Bangladeshi singer and would sing as an accompanying artist with professional singers. All her family members were Canadian citizens. Kabir was living in the United Kingdom, completing a graduate degree in Technology. Kabir came from a well-to-do family, his father was a high ranking official in the airline industry. They had an arranged marriage, supported by both families.  The marriage ceremony took place in Bangladesh in 2004.


Settlement in Canada

Ayesha completed her BA in June 2005, soon after their marriage. She sponsored Kabir to come to Canada and he arrived one month after her graduation.  Ayesha and Kabir set up their married life in a large Canadian city. Kabir would not allow his wife to work after they were married. Kabir found work in the IT department of a bank. Ayesha became pregnant quickly after they married, and their child was born in 2006.


Domestic Violence

Soon after the couple started living together the abuse began. Early on, Kabir complained about Ayesha’s cooking. Once he held her face over a pot of boiling oil, saying he was teaching her the correct cooking temperature. Scared of his anger and violence, Ayesha quickly became submissive to Kabir. Throughout her pregnancy, Kabir would kick, shove, and punch her. Kabir did not want the child and pressured Ayesha to abort. He enlisted the help of his extended family to convince her to do so, but she refused.

During her fourth month of pregnancy, Ayesha disclosed to her family doctor that she and Kabir were having issues in their relationship. The doctor referred the couple to a psychiatrist, and during their joint meeting, the psychiatrist suggested that her husband consults with another psychiatrist for his anger issues. Kabir got upset with this recommendation and stopped going to the psychiatrist. He prevented Ayesha from attending further appointments and his abusive behaviour began to increase.

Their son was born by C-section, and Ayesha’s parents came to help the family for a week. However, the visit was cut short when Kabir insulted Ayesha’s mother and she left. She was, however, able to access some support during this time. The public health nurse who attended Ayesha at home after her delivery noticed that Ayesha was exhibiting mental health behaviour. She suspected post-partum depression and was supportive of Ayesha emotionally.

Ayesha was expected to do all the household chores, raise the child, and serve Kabir’s extended family. The cries of the new baby interfered with Kabir’s sleep and he told Ayesha to sleep in another room on a pull-out couch with their son. With the baby, just a year old, Ayesha moved to her parents for several months while Kabir’s brother-in-law moved into the marital home.

Over the years Kabir continued to be a strict disciplinarian, demanding order and obedience from Ayesha and their son. If the son did not comply with Kabir’s orders immediately, Kabir would scold, shake, and hit the child. The child was afraid of his father. Ayesha could not interfere, or she would be beaten. Kabir started a new job and the family moved into a new home in June 2010. The title deed of the house was solely in Kabir’s name.  Kabir was making good money and started taking postgraduate courses at a local university. Kabir told Ayesha her domain was the home and it needed to be tidy and organized; if it was not, she would be beaten.

In January 2010, when Ayesha’s uncle was visiting, he witnessed Kabir being abusive to Ayesha and the son. Kabir had been hitting Ayesha with his shoe and this upset the child who tried to intervene. Kabir got furious and pushed the child onto a sofa. When the child intervened again, Kabir shut the child into a washroom and turned the lights off. This terrified the child.

Ayesha started developing mental health issues over the years because of the abuse she faced and which remained untreated. This took place between 2007 and 2010.  In 2010 the abuse peaked. Kabir would say to Ayesha that if her family was not living in Canada, he would have killed her. He would threaten to kill her and then kill himself.  He would threaten her with a knife and call her ‘uneducated’ and ‘stupid’, among other things. The son witnessed much of the abuse and would cry and try to protect his mother.

In August 2010 Kabir called Ayesha ’s parents to come and take Ayesha away and that she should not return until she ‘improved’. Ayesha and her child began living with her parents and her father took her to the family doctor who referred Ayesha to an outpatient mental health clinic. She started treatment with the outpatient clinic in October 2010. The outpatient clinic required the spouse to accompany her for an intake meeting with a social worker.  Kabir said he could not attend so the outpatient clinic contacted Ayesha’s father and requested him to bring her to the hospital. The next day the father took her to the appointment, and she met the psychiatrist. During their discussions, Ayesha shared that she was terrified of her husband.

She confided to the doctor that she felt her husband had special powers and that she was afraid of him. The psychiatrist told her that he had a duty to report safety concerns to the police and Children’s Aid Society if she was unwilling to report these herself to these agencies.

Ayesha reported the abuse to the police and they took her to a shelter with the child. She stayed at the shelter for one night and then moved into her parent’s house. Kabir was arrested and charged with assault, assault with a weapon, and uttering threats. He was released on a no-contact condition.

The Children’s Aid Society was called at the time of police intervention and an intake worker visited Ayesha’s parents’ home to conduct a risk assessment. The purpose was to ensure the environment was safe for the child as well as to extend an offer of support if Ayesha required it.


Kabir started a court application asking for custody and access to the child. Ayesha is seeking sole custody of her son with access granted to Kabir to see his child.  A Section 30 Assessment (outlined under Children’s Law Reform Act of Ontario (CLRA) was conducted, and a psychologist at that time recommended sole custody to the father. The court can order a Section 30 Assessment when there is a concern around a parent’s capacity, typically around mental health in order to meet the needs of the child and keep the child safe. Ayesha is now managing her mental health well and the child is being successfully parented by Ayesha, with support from her parents. While these proceedings were ongoing, the father was granted supervised access to the child.

Ayesha challenged the assessment and a critique report was conducted as the S. 30 report did not account for Kabir’s anger issues nor the domestic violence aspect. The critique report recommends that Ayesha maintain custody of her son and a ‘Community of Support and Accountability’ (C.O.S.A) be formed around her to ensure the child’s needs are met. The matter was finally resolved by way of parallel custody arrangement where Ayesha got to decide on the child’s religion and health matters and the father made decisions related to the child’s education.  The child resides primarily with the mother and has access visits with Kabir.  Ayesha receives spousal support and child support from Kabir. The matrimonial home was sold, and she received a share of the sale.

Click on the links below to access Case Study questions related to the following:

Intersectional Vulnerabilities

Practitioners’ Subjectivity and Social Location

Social Policy and the Law 

Migration and Transnationalism

Providing Supports to Victims of DV


Media Attributions



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Domestic Violence in Immigrant Communities: Case Studies Copyright © 2020 by Ferzana Chaze, Bethany Osborne, Archana Medhekar and Purmina George is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book