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When a woman’s right becomes a ‘sin’

By Fawad Ali Shah

KARACHI: “Is it a crime to even think of getting married for a second time?” is the question that Sakina, 36, posed before the magistrate of the Malir Courts on Monday.

“What was I punished for?” she asks. The punishment that she is referring to was blackening of the face and shaving off her head, all because she, a divorcee, dared and actually dreamed of having a second marriage.

She informed the court that her husband, Lemoo, had divorced her two years ago and since then she had been living at her father’s house.

“Nikkahs and divorces in our villages are carried out verbally and there is no concept of written agreements,” she went on to say. Sakina, a mother of three and resident of Hasan Pawar Goth, Quaidabad, maintained that her ex-husband was a heroin addict and treated her badly.

She wished to marry for a second time and on May 27, went to the courts to consult her lawyer for a ‘khula’ as she realised that written proof would be needed.

However, when her father and brothers came to know about her intention to divorce her husband, they tortured her.

“My face was blackened and head shaved,” she says, adding that then she was forced to march through the streets.

Although, Sakina’s father and brothers have been taken into custody, she refuses to accept that she is safe.

“If nikkah can be carried out verbally, why not divorce? If a man can marry for the second time, then why is a woman punished for even dreaming to marry again?” she asked the court.

A FIR, under sections 354,337 (V), 342/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), has been registered against the accused at the Shah Lateef police station.

“When I saw her for the second time I was shocked,” her lawyer, Ashfaq Rajpar, told Daily Times.

“In the first meeting, she talked to me about the process of obtaining a khula and expressed her desire to file a suit against her husband,” Rajpar said.

It should be pointed out that women’s rights violations are rampant in Sindh. Thousands of women lose their lives in the name of honour and many are condemned to lives that make them pray for death.

A recent example is Irfan Pattan, a resident of Sukkur, who married a student of a medical college, Khushbakht, in court. Both of them were abducted and while Irfan’s body was recovered, his wife is still missing.
Source: Daily Times
Date:6/2/2009

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