Sufiah Yusuf Photos

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Sufiah Yusof’s ex-husband Jonathan Marshall has expressed sadness and complete shock over the one-time child prodigy selling herself for £130 (RM829) per hour.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying: “I am completely shocked. It’s very sad, actually. It’s very shocking that someone can use himself or herself in such a way.”

“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,” he said.

“It’s a particular shock – her coming from a Muslim background. To see pictures of somebody doing that – somebody I knew very closely – it makes me think, how did she get to that stage. Quite frankly she knows well enough what she should and should not do.”

Britain’s News of the World on Sunday went on to relate how Sufiah, admitted to Oxford University at the age of 13, had taken to hiring herself out over the Internet as a prostitute – or “Asian escort” as she termed it – at the rate of £130 per hour.

Estranged from her family, she had adopted the working name of Shilpa Lee and set up shop in a backstreet flat in Salford, Manchester.

Marshall went on to say: “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.”

The two fell in love and married in 2004. Marshall, a law student, had already converted to Islam. He was 24 and she was 19. The marriage lasted less than two years.

“The reason we split was that I became more observant and Sufiah became less so,” The Daily Telegraph quoted Marshall as saying.

“That took her in the wrong direction, away from the direction in which I wanted to go. The teachings of Islam are fundamental to your everyday life, so when paths diverge in that respect it is a major issue.”

Marshall, speaking yesterday from Saudi Arabia where he works for a leading firm of City solicitors, told The Daily Telegraph that Sufiah was confused.

“She didn’t know quite what she wanted. She wasn’t ready to settle down. Basically, she wanted to be a student,” he said.

“She wasn’t particularly extrovert. 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 added that there was little contact between Sufiah and her family in her final year at Oxford, but some bridges were mended when family members attended the couple’s Islamic wedding ceremony.

He did not gain the impression during the marriage that Sufiah had been subjected to physical abuse by her father as a child. Psychological abuse was another matter.

Sufiah completed her course but failed to take her final exams, ostensibly because of her health.

When Marshall secured a job with one of the “magic circle” law firms, the couple moved to London and then, briefly, to Singapore.

It was there that they decided to split. On returning to London, Sufiah was admitted to London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies to read economics.

Despite their split in August 2005, Marshall supported her for eight months before taking up a job with his firm in Saudi Arabia. He has remarried and has two children.

“We agreed that I would assist her for a specific time,” Marshall, who has not been in contact with his former wife, told The Daily Telegraph.

“I felt a moral obligation to help her out while she was still at university. She wanted to concentrate on university and I agreed she should.

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

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