Stories about domestic abuse

Dear Pakistani sisters, your suffering is in your hands

Tabassum Adnan became a victim of child marriage at the age of 13. It took 20 years for this woman from Pakistan’s Swat Valley to gather the courage to divorce her husband and end a nightmare of physical and mental abuse. According to a US Department of State press release, this move caused her to lose her home, money and children. But she had no choice but to look forward, and this year she has been awarded the Secretary of State International Women of Courage Award in recognition of her NGO Khwendo jirga (Sister’s Council). [email protected] & @AmbCathyRussell present the brave and amazing 2015 #WomenofCourage. ...

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‘Sharing’ rape

The plight of women in Pakistan is a grotesque reality; so shameful that even in today’s day and age most aspects of their suppressed lives are considered taboo for public debate. One such area is the crime of rape, and marital rape in particular, where the latter is still not considered an offence or a wrong-doing in this land of the pure. The Sughra Imam Report which was recently presented before the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice revealed that there has been a zero conviction rate for rape in the past five years and the main reason behind this is the ...

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Reham Khan versus ex-husband: Who is the saint and the sinner?

Over the past couple weeks, countless blogs and articles have been written about Imran Khan’s recent marriage to British journalist Reham Khan, where focus has been placed more on criticising Mr Khan’s choice, rather than the congratulatory aspect of the marriage itself. When it comes to celebrities, prominent public figures and politicians, matters pertaining to marriage are no longer private; everyone wants to get a piece of that hot pie; the bigger the pie, the better. And Imran’s marriage to Reham has indeed been a hot topic of discussion, with much criticism I must add, as of late. Much of that disparagement has especially been directed ...

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“This isn’t Hollywood. Stop trying to save the girl!”

You only caught a glimpse of the girl as she walked down the corridor. She had short hair. You reverted the news back to your friends. “A girl has moved into the room next door.” You live in a shared apartment. Everyone was excited. Your friends had called to congratulate you. “What does she look like?” “She has short hair.” “That’s a good start.” You heard the sounds of cardboard boxes being dragged down the corridor, and you realised that this is the most opportune time to clear your room off the dishes that had been piling up in one corner. You take your glasses off, ...

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My secret admirer

The doorbell rang. It was 2pm and I was preparing food for lunch. It was almost time for my 15-year-old son, Omar, to come back from school. Wiping away sweat from my forehead with my left sleeve, I rushed towards the entrance. But there was nobody there; just a small package tied with a red ribbon-flower. I was shocked for a second. It wasn’t any special occasion that I could recall neither was it anyone’s birthday at home or any sort of anniversary. I picked it up. It had my name written on it but the box had no name of ...

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#WhyIStayed: Understanding why women stay with abusive husbands

When the disturbing video of National Football League (NFL) star, Ray Rice, beating up his wife in an elevator, after knocking her unconscious and dragging her out, surfaced in the media the harrowing narrative of domestic violence remerged with all its might and force. And the news of Janay Rice lashing out at the media for releasing the video and advising the media to mind its own business made her look like an even bigger culprit than her husband. It’s a common example of how the victim is demonised and morphed instantly into a culprit, if she does not fit our tailored standard of sham ...

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Series 1: “Dreams of Lunacy” Part 3 The rich

Zameer opens his door, which is covered with dust, cow dung, and drawings done by a chalk. As he enters his nine-year-old son, Hassan, spots him and runs towards him and holds him tightly. Zameer embraces him with all his love, but not all his strength. “How have you been, my son?” “Good.” “Where’s your mother?” “She’s gone to get roti’s, she just left.” He nods his head, and drags a charpoy under the peepal tree, removes his shoes and discharges a long sigh. Hassan watches with wonder, at shiny shoes covered in shiny dust, which only please the owner when they are taken off. “Are ...

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“I was raped hundreds of times, by the man I was married to”

That phase of her life ended three years ago with her divorce, but 35-year-old Naila* will never be healed of what she went through during the nine years of her marriage. This is a true story; the true story of a woman who suffered a plight faced by so many women. Sadly, the crime committed against them is not even considered a crime. “Every time my husband approached me, it was sheer torture. Sometimes physical, and forever mental and emotional torture. He was physically brutal and wanted me to indulge in behaviour I was not okay with. He never cared about ...

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It was my fault

The first time he hit her was on the 17th morning of her wedding ceremony. She had just walked out of the bathroom after a shower, her hair still dripping little droplets of water as she tried to rub them dry with a towel. He was standing in front of the armoire picking out a tie for himself, his back to her. She saw his handsome profile, all sharp lines and edges, and she had smiled to herself blissfully. In that moment she had thought, she was the luckiest girl on earth. This beautiful man, who had the ability to attract people ...

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In Pakistan, domestic abuse is none of your business

As Iman sat there talking to me, I could see all the classic signs of her being stuck in the cycle of abuse. First there was the abuse period, severe fighting at the end of which she would often walk out being the second, the third period would be the reconciliation where he would call and apologise or the elders of the family would be brought in to ‘patch things up’, and the fourth and final stage of returning to him, believing all his lies claiming that it would never happen again. Nevertheless, as always, she would believe and he ...

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