PESHAWAR: The new year started with a young married woman set on flames when she returned home after her futile visit to the police station. Badly burnt, in her dying statement she named her killers with a hope that she would be finally taken seriously and get justice.
Uzma, 28, a mother of four, was tortured and burnt allegedly by her in-laws. She succumbed to her injuries on January 12.
Another woman named Aneela was also burnt. She was tied to her bed and burnt alive on the morning of January 30 in Chitta Batta area of Mansehra. FIR has been registered against unidentified suspects.
Reports show 70pc increase in incidents of honour killing
These are just two reported cases. Many women tortured and beaten in domestic life are never able to speak up or do anything to change their situation. This is a society where even men, deemed powerful, don’t speak for the weaker segment or injustice done to them.
In just one month two women have been burnt alive in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and not a word has been uttered by a single member of the 124-member provincial assembly or any from among thousands of local government representatives.
Not a word from the holy men, who never tire about giving statements on beating up a wife as they say it is a family or private matter and reject any law to curb domestic violence as un-Islamic.
The Council of Islamic Ideology, which never misses a chance to explain rights of Muslim men in marriage, do not look up into the Holy Quran, explain and preach to Muslim men when a case of violence against married women or teenage girls is reported.
Not even when a teenager is burnt alive by men on mere suspicions of helping a friend marry of her choice, or another for refusing to accept a marriage proposal or yet another for marrying of her own choice.
“The psyche of the people is reflected by their elected government. People know that nothing would happen if a woman is killed as soon the culprits would go scot free,” said Saima Munir, who works for Aurat Foundation, which gathers reports of violence against women.
The Aurat Foundation’s annual report of 2016 showed 7,852 cases of violence against women. “There has been an increase of about 70 per cent in cases of honour killing and suicide,” she said. She regretted that the previous and present governments proved that women’s issues were not a priority for them.
“Domestic violence bill is an important bill and resistance to it is obvious. The present government thinks Police Act 2017 would resolve all such problems. I don’t agree,” said Ms Munir. According to her, stalling legislation on domestic violence is an expression of how government doesn’t think much of women and their issues in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The second-time appointed chairperson of Provincial Commission on the Status of Women excused herself to comment on burning issue of women as she was busy in a meeting.
Amina Sardar, an MPA and member of the Women Cacus, in whose constituency last year a teenager was burnt alive, said they were working on a draft of domestic violence bill and right-winged Jamaat-i-Islami legislator was consulting ulema for their feedback.
The same political party was part of the Mutahidda Majlis Amal government when faces of women on billboards were defaced in broad daylight.
Women are being burnt, maimed and killed in the name of so-called honour of the family like sacrificial animals, many suffer in silence as for them it is impossible to come forward and speak about the domestic violence.
Despite some horrifying reported cases, police on one hand and legislators on the other are simply unable to be of any solace to such suffering women.
Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2017