The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Asian women cringe at Faria fallout
- Revelations spark debate on culture conflicts and changing attitudes

London, Aug. 9: Asian women are starting to worry about the consequences of the Faria Alam affair following weekend revelations about the sexual exploits of the 38-year-old Bangladeshi secretary.

Faria had affairs with two powerful men at the Football Association — its former chief executive, Mark Palios and the England coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson.

“White men consider us exotica and previously thought we were beyond reach because we went for arranged marriages,” said Chila Burman, a well-known artist. “Now they will think all Asian women are up for it.”

Faria sold her story for at least £500,000. In the Sun today, the Faria saga continued. The paper has got hold of a preview of an interview with ITN.

In the course of the TV interview, she breaks down twice when discussing her feelings for Eriksson.

Asked by the reporter, Fiona Foster, whether she was in love with Eriksson, she said: “If I wasn’t then, I am now.”

But asked if Eriksson loved her, she replied: “No. But it doesn’t matter because I am sure he will go back to her (Nancy Dell’Olio, Eriksson’s former Italian mistress) because she’ll accept him back.”

In her interview on the previous day, Faria had called Nancy a “drag queen” and said Eriksson did not love her any more.

However, there are some indications that Nancy may make a million or two herself by writing a book about her six years with Eriksson.

Asked on ITN whether Faria thought her relationship with Eriksson had any future, she said: “Not really. I never try to think that way. I just tried to take each day as it came. I have not heard from him for some time — more than a week has gone by. It’s not very nice and it hurts. But you have to carry on with your life.”

Pressed again, “You really love him'”, Faria asked for the cameras to stop and broke down sobbing.

One woman columnist put the knife into Faria today by depicting her as a prostitute.

In the Daily Mail, Amanda Platell, who was press officer to William Hague, the former Tory leader, wrote: “An exotic beauty briefly beds one rich and powerful man, then another, sells the stories of her bedroom escapades for a fortune -- and Faria Alam has the audacity to call it love. I’d call it a cheap trick from the most expensive of women. A dirty weekend away with Sven-Goran Eriksson, and she wants to be his bride.”

She had two sexual encounters with Palios and four with Eriksson, Platell pointed out, adding: “That works out at £83,000 per bedding. This is the new prostitution, the targeting of high-profile, weak, vain men by calculating young women.”

Will Eriksson marry her, as Faria desperately hopes'

Asian women have a distinctive perspective.

“Not a chance,” said Burman. “He’s had his way with her. He found her exotic and he hunted her. Now white men will think all Asian women are like Faria.”

While no Asian woman has condemned Faria in the terms used by Platell, many, especially from the older generation, are unhappy that traditional values are being eroded by the passage of time.

A schoolteacher who has just retired after working for 30 years in a primary school, Jasbir Bagga, said it was now commonplace for young Asian men and women to live together without getting married.

“The young have the same values as the English,” she lamented. “They are not ashamed about it, they don’t hide these things. If it’s all right for the English, they say, why isn’t it all right for us'”

However, there was a price to pay “in the long run” if Asian women choose to live independent, westernised lives, said Bagga. “After 10 years, they may not have the stability they might otherwise have,” she said.

“I don’t approve of the kind of life this girl has chosen but I don’t think there is anything we can do to stop it.”

Whatever Bagga’s personal preferences, more and more Asian women do have independent lives, particularly in London.

“At 38, and with two relationships that we know of, there is no way back for her to her Bangladeshi roots,” said publisher Lucky Dissanayake. “She would not want to go back nor would they want her back.”

“Asian women here face a choice in their twenties,” according to Dissanayake. “If they don’t get married, perhaps to someone chosen for you, and have two kids, there is no way back at the age of 38. Her story interested me because Asian women don’t kiss and tell. But Faria lived a completely western life.”

One of the prominent social hostesses of London, Surina Narula, who employed Faria as a model in several fashion shows, had a kind word for her.

“I want to defend these Asian girls,” she said. “They should be treated as British because that is what they are.”

It is possible that sexually liberated British Asian women will replace the stereotype of old -- the docile girl forced into an unhappy arranged marriage -- in contemporary novels, plays and films.

“Faria Alam was not an innocent who was led to the slaughter,” observed the Manchester-based novelist, Reshma Ruia. “Asian women have this image of being docile but as I describe in my novel (Something Black in the Lentil Soup), they can be quite manipulative.”

Email This Page