By: Owais Jafri
MULTAN: A woman who had been fighting a court case to receive haq mehar (dower) and financial support from her estranged husband was attacked with acid on Tuesday. She was referred to Bahawal Victoria Hospital, Bahawalpur, in a critical condition with 40 per cent burns to her body, including her face.
Sajida Perveen*, 27, a resident of Bakhshan Khan village in Chishtian, Bahawalnagar, had married Ahmad Farooq, 30, a resident of Chak 102, Chishtian, over two years ago. The couple had not had any children, which, according to a statement given to the police by the victim’s family, had led to their estrangement.
Farooq used to beat up Perveen and had later told her to leave his house so she had returned to her parents. Police said last year, she approached the family court in Chishtian, to seek haq mehar and a monthly allowance of Rs2,500. The case was pending in court.
Police said Perveen’s family had told them that Farooq had been enraged over her moving the court. On Tuesday, Farooq and an accomplice forcibly entered the house of Perveen’s parents, beat her and then threw acid on her.
Perveen was taken to Chishtian tehsil headquarters hospital. Doctors there told The Express Tribune that Perveen had suffered 40 per cent burns to various parts of her body and had to be referred to Bahawal Victoria Hospital for specialised treatment.
Her family filed a complaint against Farooq and his unidentified accomplice with the Bakhshan Khan police. Bakhshan Khan Station House Officer Hameed Aslam told The Express Tribune that Farooq had fled after the attack but his location had been traced using his cell phone. “We hope to arrest him within 24 hours,” he said.
Perveen’s family, however, said that Farooq was not the only one to blame.
Her father, Aslam Hussain, said it was the court’s negligence and its failure to grant her daughter her rights for over a year that had led to the incident. “We have been visiting the courts for over a year and the judge is yet to take a decision.” He said the least the judicial system could ensure was that women who sought their haq mehar and maintenance were given timely redress. “Instead they end up using all their resources to gain token justice,” he said.
The victim’s mother also blamed the lawmakers and judiciary. “Why blame my son-in-law alone? There are no policies or justice for victims like my daughter.”
She said over the course of her daughter’s hearings she had met with several women who had been visiting the courts for years hanging in desperation for some form of relief. The courts simply keep setting dates of hearings but there is no justice, she lamented.
Sher Zaman Qureshi, president of the Multan District Bar Association, told The Express Tribune that there were more than 5,000 cases pending in family, sessions and high courts by women seeking haq mehar and monthly allowance for themselves and their children. He said the executive and the judiciary should devise a policy to ensure timely hearing in these cases.