'I brought shame to my father'

'I brought shame to my father'
DESPERATE: Madam Vimala (not her real name) and her one-year-old baby daughter.

The sofa has to be pushed aside every night, so she has enough space to lay a blue mattress down on the living room floor of the two- room rental flat in Toa Payoh.

Her one-year-old daughter is oblivious to their desperate situation.

They huddle together to sleep.

But worries of an uncertain future and her dwindling bank account keep her awake.

As do the voices of a family of four living in the same flat.

"It is their home after all, so I can't complain," says Madam Vimala, 25.

Her name has been changed to protect her daughter's identity.

Last month, her parents chased her out of the family home, where she had been living all her life.

They were opposed to her divorcing her husband.

Madam Vimala, a Singaporean, claims her Malaysian husband had been using her to get permanent residency, and was seeing other women.

"It was an arranged marriage, and my father was the one who arranged it.

"But I married a monster," she says.

We meet Madam Vimala, a former hotel receptionist, at a coffee shop below the block of flats she now stays in.

She met its owners through a friend. The family has allowed her to stay for the time being until she can get back on her feet.

Nearly in tears, she recounts how her marriage was arranged in 2012.

Madam Vimala was 23. She was single then, after coming out of a relationship she had been in since studying at the Institute of Technical Education.

"I was raised thinking that my marriage will be arranged by my parents. I had no strong opinions against it, so I just went along with my parents' wishes," she says.

After being introduced to each other, the pair went on dates at shopping malls and cinemas, just like any other couple.

"There wasn't any love, but he was nice enough. My parents seemed to like him, and I trusted their arrangements."

They solemnised their marriage at the Registry of Marriages in July that year, seven months after they met.

She claims his true colours were revealed after he became a permanent resident here in September. "Before that, I didn't even know he was Malaysian. He was hardly at home, he never gave any money to me," she says.

To make things worse, she found lewd messages between him and other women on Facebook.

She shows me the messages, including one in which he said that he would agree to a divorce only if she would sign his citizenship documents.

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