Life Behind the Silence
by Gina Azizah
Troubador Publishing Ltd
ISBN 9781780889177

Gina Azizah was born in Malaysia in a small village near the jungle. She was abused by her father from birth to aged 15 when her parents divorced. Then she moved to Kuala Lumpur after a few years, and became one of the first Mulsim women to be a fitness instructor. She moved to london to study, where she now lives.

“When I was five years old, my father inserted mashed chillies into my genitals and burned my eyes with a flaming torch. It was then that I said to myself, one day I will tell the world what my father has done to me.”

Gina Azizah’s autobiography takes the reader on an unbearable journey through her childhood, as she endured years of abuse at her father’s hands. Life Behind the Silence is both heartbreaking and inspirational, giving hope to women everywhere who have suffered abuse themselves.

Gina’s Malaysian childhood was not filled with toys, presents and love. Instead it was filled with physical, sexual and mental abuse from a monstrous father, who was at the head of a dysfunctional family. Her days were punctuated by episodes of abuse from the very people who should have been caring for her – even her grandfather, a Muslim priest, tried to rape her.

There was nobody Gina could tell her secrets to – who would believe her word agains that of respected members of the community? Many years later, she has chosen to give voice to the darkness of her childhood in Life Behind the Silence. “For a long time I put on a brave face and pretended I was happy. I did not have the courage to tell people my story,” explains Gina, “but I wish to free myself from the torture and anguish that have controlled my life. I wanted to face the pain I’d kept inside for nearly four decades.”

Gina’s story of survival and courage acts as a reminder to women who have been and are being abused that they are not alone. “Be strong, and know you can survive and there is light at the end,” she says.

life behind the silence


It’s difficult to read a book like this and not be utterly blown away by both the cruelty and the tenacity of human beings. That a father can abuse the very person he is bound to protect is beyond belief. Sadly, Gina’s experience is what many thousands of girls around the world suffer.  Her courage to survive, to perservere and to make that huge emotional break from her monstrous father and other relatives, needs to be applauded. It must have taken a great deal of emotional strength to write her story – for this calls for revisiting memories of those terrible acts. It’s a testament to her courage that Gina decided to break that silence. I hope somehow her story tells other victims that they too can survive. Also it must make so many of us aware of the henious crimes of incest that exist, closer home than we realize at times.

I found this a hard book to read, but I’m glad I read it.