Where is Shahnila Naz?

Published: January 19, 2012

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 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.

  • Kafka

    Come on, the Government has much bigger issues to look into, such as president’s immunity and the memo case. Girls can wait (if they don’t get killed in the mean time).Recommend

  • Khalid

    Don’t you know how to prioritise the issues. Don’t you know that currently, our institutions are dealing with supremacy of parliament vs supremacy of law issue. After that there are many issues of national security which needs urgent attention, and you are talking about right of choice in marriage?Recommend

  • THE

    Ayesha, if you ask Dr. Awan, Zordari, Gilani, Dr. Malik or any other high ranking government official, they will clearly tell you that this is a non-issue and you are wasting their time! So, please for God sake stop crying about these female related issues, even the celebrated Supreme Court Judges don’t think these are issue worth their time or effort. The honorable Judges are busy these days in Judging the immunity of the President of Pakistan and arranging visa for the star witness in the memogate case. The “Awaam” will get new provinces, along with rooti, kapra and makaan, so all their problems would be resolved once they have their Seraiki and Hazzara sooba.Recommend

  • Noor

    Thank you for bringing it up. I just hope she is fine! Can you please find out.

    Our govt is sh**ting with things more imp to them! losers! they are just not bothered what’s happening to other ppl. they least care!Recommend

  • Ayesha Hasan

    Thanks. Yes, I am trying to get hold of some news on the couple. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Beautifully written.
    What becomes apparent is that passing the ‘Women’s Rights’ bill and such like means diddly-squat also the fact that we, as a people, have lost our moral compass. Recommend

  • x

    While I staunchly oppose a Muslim woman’s nikkah to a non Muslim on the grounds that such a nikah is not recognized in Islam so the nikkah would just be null and void, and the couple living in sin.
    However, killing someone because of it is loathsome and morally repugnant.
    As for the argument of people being wajib ul qatl according to islam, it is said that only those who find their own conscience clean and their lives without a taint, have that right. So all these keepers of the faith would do well to take a survey of themselves.
    As for marriage to the Quran, not only is that illogical, cruel and reprehensible, it is also a great sin as in shirk. Recommend

  • Shehzada

    Thanks Ayesha for writing this article. it is really important we raise awareness of this issue in our society.Recommend

  • Raja Islam

    @Ayesha Hasan:
    Suggest you stop trying to locate them. If they have escaped and are in hiding, then locating them may put their lives in danger.Recommend

  • mrs.aleena

    Thought provoking.Recommend

  • sajjo

    @ ayesha hasan
    keep it up baji. i admire your articles, and your courage to write them. all these people who are writing saying these issues are waste of time, have the same mentality as the people doing the honor killings, they are haters.
    keep on highlighting these issues, only awareness will bring change.
    from sajjRecommend

  • kinza

    its well written article keep it up !!!!!!!!Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    For some odd reason the term democracy has mistakenly been associated with, rule of the people, by the peop…etc.

    Aap ne vote diya ham ne vote liya. Shukriya.
    Now beat it. Recommend