Ex-husband of M’sian prodigy shocked

Posted: April 1, 2008 in Iedashi Vs Newspaper

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Mr Marshall and Ms Yusof on their wedding day at Oxford in 2004. — PHOTO: CHINA PRESS
The former husband of a Malaysian child prodigy said he was shocked and saddened, a day after her life as a prostitute was exposed by a British newspaper.

Speaking of the News of the World’s report on Ms Sufiah Yusof, Mr Jonathan Marshall, 28, said: ‘I am completely shocked. I can’t fathom why she would do it – especially someone in her situation. Despite the problems with her family she had many advantages which other people don’t have.’

The newspaper claimed that Ms Yusof, 23, had posted her services for £130 (S$360) on a hooker’s website, under the name of Shilpa Lee.

Mr Marshall met Ms Yusof at Oxford University – she had won a place there at 13, while he was a law student, reported the Daily Telegraph yesterday.

The couple fell in love and married in 2004 – he was 24 and she was 19. The marriage lasted less than two years. Mr Marshall also converted to Islam before marrying her.

Speaking from Saudi Arabia, where he works for a law firm, Mr Marshall said: ‘The reason we split was that I became more observant and Sufiah became less so.

‘She was confused, really. She didn’t know quite what she wanted. She wasn’t ready to settle down. Basically, she wanted to be a student.

‘She wasn’t a difficult person to live with. We simply had different goals, different ideas of where we wanted to be. There were, to my knowledge, no affairs or anything. I never considered such a thing, simply because of the religious basis of our marriage.’

He said Ms Yusof completed her course but failed to take her final exams because of her health. After Mr Marshall started work at a well-known law firm, the couple moved to London and then, briefly to Singapore.

It was in Singapore in August 2005 that they decided to end their marriage. After she returned to London, Ms Yusof decided to go back to school to read economics at London University.

Mr Marshall supported her for eight months before taking up a job in Saudi Arabia. He has remarried and has two children.

He said that he did not feel that Ms Yusof had been physically abused by her father as a child, but he was not sure about psychological abuse.

But he added that there was a limit on how much one could blame Ms Yusof’s childhood.

‘My view is that people can blame childhood to a certain extent, but there also comes a point where you have to take responsibility for your own actions.

‘She had her advantages: she had someone willing to support her while she was at university. One newspaper told me that it had offered a substantial amount for her story. Personally, I’d rather sell my story than sell myself.’

Mr Marshall said he has no way of contacting Ms Yusof – except through the mobile number posted on the website on which she advertised her services.

‘I really do hope she manages to get her life back together,’ he said. ‘She was obviously very able and it’s sad that she is not able to use that talent.’

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