When Aisha Salim marries her fiance in Pakistan next March, it will be the wedding of her dreams.Wearing a veil and gown, she will be every inch the fairytale virgin bride and as befits her strict Muslim religion, after the ceremony, she will hand her blooded wedding-night sheets to her in-laws as proof of her virginity."But he wore my inhibitions down, and I began to see that having a physical relationship with him would be pleasurable.
She says quietly: "He was another student in my tutorial class, and the more time we spent together, the more I found myself falling in love. When we started dating, I told him I was a virgin and that I was expected to keep my virginity for marriage.I wasn't just a little Muslim girl, I was an independent young woman who could make up her own mind how she was going to live her life.Scroll down for more ..."Four months later, Philip and I broke up but I suddenly felt sexually empowered.Twenty-four women in the UK had the procedure on the NHS between 20, but it is thought that hundreds or even thousands more - Aisha included - have plundered their savings to pay up to £4,000 to have private surgery.Aisha's story illustrates the intense pressures on young British Asian women caught between the strict moral code of their own community and the laxer, permissive attitudes of their white contemporaries."Ever since my family arranged this marriage for me, I've been terrified that, on my wedding night, my secret would come out.It has only been since my surgery last week that I've actually been able to sleep properly."If my husband cannot prove to his family that I am a virgin, I would be hounded, ostracised and sent home in disgrace.My father, who is a devout Muslim, would regard it as the ultimate shame."I decided that drinking, smoking and having boyfriends was just a part of normal, teenage growing up."Like other young girls, I just wanted to be part of a crowd.