Where is Shahnila Naz?

Published: January 19, 2012
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What about the wandering souls of hundreds of women in our country, who are killed for ‘honour’ or for demanding independence in decision-making?

Soon after my return to Pakistan from Germany, one of the most progressive nations holding on firm to human rights and anti-violence policies, and where I worked extensively on women issues, I was confronted with one good piece of news and one bad.

The good news was that a Belgian court had sentenced 20-year-old Sadia Sheikh’s family on charges of killing her for ‘honour’ in 2007. Her brother, who had shot her dead while she had returned to pacify her parents over her decision to marry a Belgian, was sentenced to 15 years. The court also sentenced her father and did not spare her mother and younger sister either for being silent witnesses to the treatment the two men had with Sadia (who is of Pakistani origin).

Sadia’s soul may have rested in peace that day. But what about the wandering souls of hundreds of women in our country, who are killed for ‘honour’ or for demanding independence in decision-making? When will our courts start taking decisions on the long-pending cases of women who are tortured, burned and murdered by the men of their families or outsiders?

Reports by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Free and Fair Election Network state that more than 704 honour killings were reported in Pakistan between January and October 2011.

The more worrying news, however, was about the unheard plea of a Baloch couple who, after marrying against the will of their families, were now running for their lives. Unlike Sadia, who wanted to marry a non-Muslim, Shahnila Naz was escaping a forced marriage to the Holy Quran. But this was reported in December 2011, and after a month, no one knows where Naz or her husband Fahad Amin are.

Amin’s sister was allegedly kidnapped by Naz’s family leading her to say in December 2011:

“If my sister-in-law is not recovered, I am afraid my husband would have no option but to divorce me, which would result in several deaths; mine, my unborn child’s, my husband’s and many others.”

To date neither the police, nor the honourable courts, know where she is. I called the reporter who had reported the story of her press conference in an English paper and he had no idea, and neither did the police station concerned. Trying not to be ‘carried away with feminism,’ which I am sometimes blamed for by the blinkered lot, I ask: Where are Shahnila Naz and her husband?

ayesha.jehangir

Ayesha Hasan

A sub-editor on the Lahore desk of The Express Tribune. She graduated from Kinnaird College with a masters in mass communication and is a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Fellow of Journalism at DW, Bonn.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.