Stories about domestic violence

Education will not end wife beating, Pakistan needs a cultural shift

Domestic violence – a truly horrific term, to which only its victims can truly relate, is another one of the many plagues Pakistan suffers from. Honestly, I had never thought much about it. I knew what it meant and I knew it existed but that was the extent of my thoughts on the matter, probably because I have never experienced or witnessed it and so I could not relate to it. Or probably because, like so many of us, the bubble of my privileged social setup never gave me a window into this terrifying reality that engulfs many women. But the biggest ...

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Accepting domestic abuse as a part of daily life

As a Pakistani woman, I grew up understanding that the best guarantee of my life-long security is the promise of a man’s companionship. A man will back me financially, ward off awkward questions that will arise if I remain single too long and give me a ‘home’ to care for. A man will chaperone me to family gatherings, tell me how best to behave and transform me into ‘a complete woman’.  While this formula for security infuriated me on several levels, it is the things it left unsaid that horrified me the most. No one told me just how badly a ...

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You and your cursed tongue

“Rashid, nooooo! Stop! For the love of the Almighty, stop!” My incessant pleas fell on deaf ears. By now my voice had transformed from a high-pitched wail to a dry, hoarse moan, stuck deep in my throat. I watched helplessly as he picked up that shovel, desperately trying to free myself of the fetters. I could see his thick-shouldered frame shifting laboriously from the mound of earth to the deep grave-like trench dug in the ground. “I told you, your tongue was cursed!” He grumbled, his voice dripping with frustration. I had to do something, but what? I tried to wrestle my way out ...

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Nigella Lawson: One of the many faces of domestic violence

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report released this week, physical and sexual violence now affects a third of women worldwide. The consequences of this includes a myriad of health problems including broken bones, bruises, pregnancy complications and depression coupled with the harsh reality that many of these women may possibly spend their lifetime in such a relationship.  In the last year, a host of high-profile rape cases in India have helped shed the spotlight on the pandemic of sexual violence against women. Though we have a long way to go and much responsibility to bear, as a society, the immediate result ...

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Samra’s story: When marital abuse did not break her

Attending the graduation ceremony of students at the prestigious University of Toronto, my daughter pointed out Samra Zafar, saying “She topped in Economics and she is a Pakistani!”  Samra was flanked not by parents, but two daughters, aged 12 and seven. I wanted to know more about her, and hence invited her over to our house next evening. At home, while sipping tea, Samra shared her 14 year journey with me and I was absolutely floored by her story. In 1999, in Abu Dhabi, Samra was a brilliant 16-years-old student of grade 11, dreaming to go to a foreign university to pursue higher ...

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Letters to God

The box was placed between old grimy paperbacks. It had been there for a long time. She could tell by the layers of dust that enveloped it, obscuring it. She removed it from the iron shelves and opened it while her heart slammed painfully against her ribs. It had been a home for her letters, the ones she had written a decade ago. The envelopes sealed by glue had been opened-mother had read them. She didn’t care. She picked up the first one and went through it. She finished. The tear stained page now dampened by fresh tears. Maybe taking a trip down memory ...

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And then they were free

There was blood everywhere. The ringing in the ears. The throbbing pain in his gut from being punched. The mini blackouts that wouldn’t stop. The screams he would hear intermittently. The mad blinding rage he felt turning cold. Shahab was doubled over at the table. The otherwise blue-coloured glass that sat on it was shaking. No. The glass wasn’t shaking. Shahab looked up. Rasheedullah was shaking it. Rasheedullah was in a mad rage. Rasheedullah’s eyes were bloodshot. His mouth was wet. His teeth were bared. He was a human bloodhound with a long serrated knife in one hand and a battered brown slipper in the ...

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More than bills and laws

There is still a lot that needs to be done in order to empower women of this country, which goes farther than organising events at five-star hotels to highlight women-related issues which are known to everyone, or the gushing praise showered on the passage of bills for the protection and empowerment of women’s rights without their enforcement. I am really tired of covering day-long events, arranged at these hotels, in which the representatives of this so-called democratic government and various NGOs share grocery-lists of work they have done to empower the women of this country. But as I step out of ...

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A woman’s fate

For as long as one can remember, Karachi has been beset by killings. Though these days it seems that it is getting easier to murder a woman and get away with it. Murders of women are reported from all corners of the country, almost on a daily basis, and without a doubt, many cases go unnoticed or unreported. Alarmingly, a sizeable majority of the women killed are young and newly-wed. They are not just murdered, but murdered after being subjected to domestic torture and sexual violence. Unfortunately, nothing much is being done to promote the fast-vanishing tradition of respecting and honouring women. Recently, ...

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Men: a different breed

Cruelty knows no bounds and all we humans suffer. The fairer sex is mostly the one who suffers the cruel death that takes the final breath away. Be it Indian Nirbhaya or South African Reeva. Some men, like Nirbhaya’s boyfriend, are perfect examples of tragic Hamlets in our midst, while others like Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee track star, are like Shakespeare’s outright cruel Othello! Whatever the case may be, when we talk of men, we end up defining them as a different breed altogether, a breed if not confusing like the fairer sex, is at times, considered more violent and ...

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