Posts Tagged ‘ Abuse ’

She Said

He had gone too far this time and he would suffer the consequences now. I rang the doorbell of his apartment and his sister opened the door. She led me to the drawing room since I had asked to speak to his mother.

“Assalamualiekum Aunty.” I greeted her when she entered the room. “Aunty mujhe aap se aik bohat zaroori baat karni hai.” I told his mother with my arms crossed over my chest.

“Bolo, kya baat hai?” She asked me a little taken aback. We lived in the same building but we rarely interacted. She seemed like decent educated person so I decided to come and talk to her instead of creating a scene in the complex.

“Aunty aap please Zubair ko samjhaein. Pehlay woh complex ki larkiyon ko sirf comments marta tha aur ajeeb baatein kasta tha lekin ab wo hadd paar kar raha hai.” I told her so that she could talk sense into her son.

“Kya matlab hai tumara? Kya kar raha hai mera beta? Woh to itna shareef hai. Wo to complex ki sub larkiyon ko apni behan samajhta hai aur unko aankh uth kar bhi nahin dekhta. Poora muhalla gawahi deta hai meray betay ki sharafat ki.” She told me getting aggressive.

“Aapke shareef betay ne bohat dafa aap hi ki shareef beti ke haath mujhe apna number aur phool aur khat bhaijay hain. Usko bula lar pooch lein aap khud ke kitna shareef hai aapka beta.” I told her to pop her delusional bubble.

“Bakwas nahin karo meray saamne. Mera beta kabhi aisa kar hi nahin sakta aur apni behan ko to kabhi bhi is kaam ke liye istemaal nahin kar sakta woh. Tum pagal to nahin ho?” She asked me then to gaslight me and turn this around on me somehow.

“Jee aunty, aap ka beta apnay ghar mein bohat shareef hoga ishi liye mein aapke paas aye hoon aap ki galat fehmi door karne. Lekin aainda mein aapke paas nahin aoongi aur wahin usko zaleel karke chali jaoon gi. Mein chahti hoon ke aap khud usko samjha dein taake koi yeh na kahe ke aapka beta aur aapki beti ka bhai ghatiya insaan hai.” I told her to let her know that I had come to her out of concern for her dignity and her daughter’s reputation.

“Jao jao, bari ayee meray betay ko zaleel karne wali. Khud ko dekha hai, aadha larka lagti hoon in chhote baalon aur larkon wale kapron mein. Larka samajh kar haath laga dya hoga us ne. Tum to galay hi par gayee ho. Tum jaisee to hazaron uske aagay peechay ghoomti hain. Aaj kal ki larkiyon ka to kaam hi yehi hai. Larke ne abhi thori si lift kya karadi, harassment ka ilzaam le kar aa jati hain, tum jaisee awara larkiyan.” She told me as I stared at her words and thoughts in shock and disgust.

I finally understood why he acted the way he did and why his sister was not allowed to wear anything other than a burqa when she left the house. Why he threatened to kill any guy he suspected of looking at her while he openly commented on and even groped girls in the same building.

I felt tears come into my eyes at the insults she had just thrown at me but I could not cry here or now.

“Aunty mein dua karooongi ke aapki beti to bilkul aapke betay jaisa shohar mile.” I turned around and left the room after saying my piece.

When would women stop protecting men who are harassers and abusers of other women? Why do we always blame and shame the victim in such situations? When will people learn to teach their boys the concept of consent and that women are not objects for gratification? When I see and hear instances like this being played on our social media and being acted out around is when I feel a deep sense of hopelessness but then I tell myself I will teach my children better. That brings my hope back.

I See You

The first time I saw her she was standing in the corner of my room, staring at me. I had entered the room before my husband to inspect it. He had just bought the house and he had brought me over to see it as a surprise. I had recently had our second baby and this was his present to me, he believed in grand gestures.

I tried talking to her but she didn’t respond, she just kept staring back at me with her head slightly tilted and her long flowing black hair hanging around her body down till her hips. She had long bruise on her neck but while I could not figure out its probable cause though I could perhaps make a calculated guess.  

Assalamualiekum. Are you the caretaker’s wife? This is a lovely house, thank you for taking such good care of it.” I told her with a smile to put her at ease, trying to coax a response from her.

Armaan entered the room then and looked at me like I had lost my mind.

“Who are you talking to jaan?” He asked me with a worried look in his eyes.

“Who is that girl standing there in the corner? Does she live her?” I asked him, still looking at her.

“What girl? Who are you talking about Sairah? There is no one there.” He told me. “Do you like this room? I think this will be the perfect room for us.” He told me then seemingly to take my mind off this complex puzzle of a situation.

‘How can he not see her? Am I losing my mind or is he going blind?’ I thought to myself. She was still standing there looking at me blankly but her eyes seemed to flash with anger every time she looked at Armaan. 

I found myself feeling scared and reciting all the surahs and ayats I knew from the Quran hoping it would keep us safe from her if she was a bad spirit or jinn. I had complete faith in the paranormal and I intended to keep a Quran Khwani (Holy book recitation) at this place before moving in next week.

We moved into the house a week later; she was still in the room and Armaan refused to budge from his decision of making it ours. I knew he would just laugh at me and call me crazy for seeing her when no one else could so I willingly went along.

She didn’t say or do anything, just stood in a corner like a fixed piece of furniture and I became used to her being there. She would disappear sometimes, just for a while but she always came back. It was usually when I played the Quran, prayed or went for a shower. She never attempted to reach out to me in any way either.

I often wished I knew her name, I talked to her sometimes but I just called her ‘dost’ (friend). It became a habit or sorts. I would share everything with her, things that made me happy and the things that brought me pain. She became a sort of journal that I started sharing things with verbally instead of in writing. Her eyes seemed to reflect my joy when I felt happy and my agony when I felt sad.

She watched me closely, her eyes seemed to follow my every move and her being seemed to tense up and release negative energy whenever Armaan was around. She never left me alone with him, no matter what happened. Even if I prayed while he was around, she would not leave the room and it often made me wonder why.

I finally mustered the courage to look things up online to see if I could figure out her identity and her story. I had almost given up with I saw a news clipping with what appeared to be her picture.

“Woman allegedly strangled to death by husband for giving birth to girl”

I read the headline and felt tears rolling down my cheeks as I looked up at her again. My heart went out to her and I felt an overwhelming urge to hold her but how does one comfort a ghost? I finally understood the origin of the marks on her neck and I found myself struggling to breathe as I imagined what she had possibly experienced.

The incident had happened in Khalra, an area in India closest to us here in one of the recently developed phases of DHA Lahore. The news clipping dated back to 2012, around 8 years ago and she had been 30 years old then. Her husband had reportedly tortured and killed her in a fit of rage over the birth of their third female child.

 I found myself wondering why she was here in my house, so far from her own. I had always assumed that she came with the house and was maybe buried somewhere on the premises. Years of conditioning my Indian horror shows suggested that would be the case but it clearly wasn’t. Why then had she chosen this house and specifically me?

I found myself wishing there was someone I could discuss this with but there was no one I could talk to about these things without appearing to have lost my senses. I went online again to a page on Facebook which specifically discussed paranormal incidents and searched for information there.

I came across a number of women posting about an experience similar to mine and reached out to almost all of them. It came to my attention and struck me instantly that almost of them had died soon after their posts under mysterious circumstances. I reached out to their close friends and family in hopes of finding an answer. All they could tell me was that soon after they saw ‘her’ their loved ones died tragically at the hands of their own family members.

I found myself having trouble breathing and found myself unable to look at her; the probable cause of my possibly fast approaching death. I wanted to run away but how could I move out with two small children and a third one arriving soon. I felt myself panicking and feeling breathless, I was now worried that I would deliver prematurely because of the stress of the situation.

Oh God! I found myself praying for a way out of the situation. I needed answers and I knew that I could not get them from her. I prayed profusely for a miracle and for some way to be saved from what seemed to be my imminent death. She had not hurt me yet and it had been quite a few months since we moved to this place. Why hadn’t she killed me already if that is what she had wanted to do? Was she here to expedite my death? I had a hard time believing that. What was she waiting for?

I was losing my mind and I stared at her almost all night, unable to sleep. Finally slumber overtook me and I had a really bad dream. I dreamt that I had another daughter and Armaan went above and beyond his usual dose of abuse and ended up killing me. I woke up drenched in sweat and I started sobbing in agony as soon as I awakened. It seemed I had finally solved the puzzle; she had come to warn me and make an attempt at preventing my death.

I shook my head to clear my mind. Armaan wasn’t that kind of man. He would never kill me over the birth of another female child, would he? He had his heart set on a boy this time and he had been upset when I didn’t agree to an ultrasound but he would never kill me……?

I was feeling a whirlwind of emotions and so much uncertainty. I decided to talk to Armaan finally, yes, he was prone to bouts of anger and yes, he was abusive but he wouldn’t go as far as murder. Is that why she never left me alone with him? Was she scared that I would end up like her? She had always been in the room when he went into one of his abusive stupors but only her eyes changed in response. Wouldn’t or rather shouldn’t she have reacted more strongly to his actions?

What struck me next was the fact that this stranger who could not help me in anyways cared about me more than all the other people around me who possibly could.

“Samreet, will he really hurt me?” I asked her with tears running down my cheeks. “Will he kill me for giving him another daughter?” She just looked back at me the same way; her head tilted to the side but I saw one single, solitary tear run down her face.


Definitions of femicide

Female homicide (or femicide): the unlawful and intentional causing of a death of a female.
Intimate femicide: the intentional killing of a woman by an intimate partner (husband, boyfriend, cohabiting partner, same-sex partner (current or ex), or a rejected would-be lover, as well as perpetrators from incestuous relationships.
Non-intimate femicide: the intentional killing of a woman by someone other than an intimate partner.

This word has been in the limelight most recently because of the murders of women in Turkey however this term has also been applied to other places like Mexico and Azerbaijan. It is actually a global phenomenon and it is predicted to be at an all-time high this year due to the quarantine situation.

How is femicide linked to the black and white picture challenge online?

The Guardian reports that in 2019, 474 women were murdered, mostly by partners and relatives in Turkey. This is the highest rate in a decade in which the numbers have increased year on year.  Very recently, the country was rocked by the brutal killing of Pınar Gültekin, a 27-year-old student, who was allegedly killed by an ex-boyfriend.

The B&W picture challenge was to encourage people to post their pictures to emphasize how pictures of murdered women end up in black and white in the pages of newspapers. Most people who did this were not aware of the reason behind it. Prominent celebrities like Chef Nigella Lawson and Comedian Miranda Hart issued apologies for posting pictures without knowing the reason. I myself am also guilty of doing this.

What are the demands of the people protesting femicide in Turkey?

Turkey was the first country to adopt a 2011 Council of Europe convention on gender-based violence and domestic violence, a legal framework designed to protect victims and prosecute offenders, known as the Istanbul Convention. The protesters think that it is one of the primary laws keeping women safe in the country even though the Turkish Government is looking to do away with it saying it promotes immorality and breaks up the traditional family system.

What about femicide in Pakistan?

Pakistan ranks as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women, with cases of sexual crimes and domestic violence recording a rapid rise. According to statistics collected by White Ribbon Pakistan, an NGO working for women’s rights, 4,734 women faced sexual violence between 2004 and 2016. Over 15,000 cases of honour crimes were registered.

Patriarchy is the core reason behind these high statistics of abuse and other acts of violence against women in Pakistan. There are not however enough initiatives being created to address this primary cause of femicide locally.

The WHO report also blamed “unequal power of women relative to men” and the “normative use of violence to resolve conflict”.

What is patriarchy you ask?

In the context of our discussion, it would be defined as, ‘a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.’

There are simply not enough women at the table when women’s rights and protections are being legislated. The system is by the males and for the males and they enjoy rights and privileges that women simply do not. While we do see things improving slowly and gradually, drastic measures need to be taken to reduce if not crush gender inequality in Pakistan.

This gender inequality is reflected in all spheres of life from the moment a girl is born to the time that she dies. It is apparent in all the opportunities she is denied and her male siblings are provided. It is taken from her in the form of the best piece of meat in the food, her education, her property and even her ability to earn an income to support herself.

Let’s come back and focus on femicide.

“Many of the victims of ‘femicide’ are killed by their current and former partners, but they are also killed by fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters and other family members because of their role and status as women,” said the UNODC. These killings, it added, do “not usually result from random or spontaneous acts, but rather from the culmination of prior gender-based violence. Jealousy and fear of abandonment are among the motives.”

In Pakistan these types of killings are usually terms ‘Honour Killings’ even though it can be argued that there is no honour associated with killing anyone.

If most of the femicides committed again women are by their partners why don’t they just leave?

This is a question that is often asked when a femicide news report comes up and people wonder why the victim stayed with an abusive spouse or partner. The answers to this question are often simple and quite horrifying.

  • Most of these women have no safe place to leave and escape to.
    • In most cases even their own parents are not willing to take them back if they decide to leave their partner.
  • Leaving can drastically increase their chances of being killed as opposed to staying with the partner.
    • It can often be a former partner or a rejected one that can kill or throw acid at a female he felt rejected or abandoned by.
  • As mentioned earlier it is not always a partner but can also be immediate family members who are a threat to her life.

 What can we do about it?

The first thing we can do about it is educate ourselves about the issue and accept that there is one. Then we can pass on that information to others and educate them about it as well. If you are a blogger or influencer then write about it or talk about it on whatever platforms you have access to.

If you know anyone who is in a problematic situation reach out to them but remember, never ask a victim why she doesn’t just leave, especially not after knowing the information you know now.

If you decide to help her leave the situation, make sure you provide her all the support she needs, like an alternative place where she will be safe.

Keep an eye out for the signs of abuse such as controlling behaviour, violence or threats of violence.

Seeing the surge in domestic violence cases the world over even Pakistan has introduced a helpline. The helpline is operational from 10 am to 10 pm all through the week. The toll-free helpline is 1099 for landline calls and 0333-9085709 on Whatsapp for both calls and texts. It’s effectiveness is questionable as most women are afraid to reach out and ask for help however it was much needed. We can only hope that over time it will prove to be valuable if even one life is saved.

Here are some ways to help a loved one who is being abused:

  • Setup a time to talk.
  • Let her know you’re concerned about her safety.
  • Be supportive.
  • Offer specific help.
  • Don’t place shame, blame or guilt on her.
  • Help her make a safety plan.
  • Encourage her to talk to someone who can help.
  • If she decides to stay, continue to be supportive.
  • Encourage her to do things outside of the relationship.
  • If she decides to leave, continue to offer help.
  • Let her know that you will always be there no matter what.

Honour Killings

Sources of Information:

Femicide: A global scourge