Originally from the highly dense mixed neighbourhood of Adhamiyah in Baghdad, Basma’s marital and social life compounded with violence on the streets of Baghdad drove her to leave the country taking risky and treacherous routes into the UK with her young daughter. Basma Al-Azzawi, is a Baghdadi ceramicist and currently a single mother seeking asylum in the UK. Her map records the multiple attempts to escape violence, domestic and urban, with her daughter, as they crossed national and international, soft and hard, borders, leaving behind a career in pottery and a social life that she still yearns for.
The trigger was when my daughter reached fifteen years of age and her father wanted to have her marry. He used to come around the house and assault me trying to force me to hand her over, but my neighbours and friends protected me. That was the moment that I thought, neither her nor I are safe here anymore. I had to escape. In 2018, I managed to obtain a passport for her, and I had mine, and in a day and night, I decided to leave for Amman, Jordan where my parents are. In Amman, I applied and was rejected three times for a British visa. I could not stay in Amman, so I went back to Baghdad, sold all the content of my 3rd floor apartment in Palestine Street in central Baghdad (Felisteen Street) and packed a backpack and decided to take the difficult route into Europe through Turkey.
I find refuge in the scarf that I wore when I escaped through Turkey but I hate the black abaya that women were forced to wear during the years of sectarian violence, and the taped windows on houses, the minute I see these two anywhere even here (in the UK), bad memories flood back.