By Rob King
UPDATED: 18:26 GMT, 8 March 2012
Fear: Sabatina James says she ran away from home after strict Muslim parents threatened to kill her
A women’s rights campaigner has revealed how she fears for her life after her strict Muslim parents threatened to kill her when she dared to refuse an arranged marriage.
Sabatina James said the threat made her flee the family home at 18, change her name, convert to Catholicism and move abroad to set up a foundation for women in similar danger.
Her parents took her to court after she wrote a book about her experiences, in which she claimed to have been beaten as her teenager for kissing a boy and wearing clothes they thought were too revealing.
They sued her for defamation – and lost.
Miss James said she believed she would probably be dead now, if her parents had their way.
She told the Daily Beast: ‘I rarely go out alone.
‘I often wonder if someone is lurking around the corner.
‘I have always loved my freedom – but I have paid a high price.’
Miss James claimed that, after she refused to marry the man her parents had chosen, her father told her: ‘The honour of this family is more important than my life or your life.’
But she added that her mother was even stricter, beating her and watching her every move to the point where she had ‘no anchor’.
Miss James, who grew up in a rural village near the Kashmir mountains, said her problems began when she was 15 and the family lived in the Austrian city of Linz.
While she enjoyed the freedoms of Western culture, such as wearing lipstick and eyeliner, her conservative parents, who were brought together in an arranged marriage, disapproved.