By: Mohammad Hussain Khan
HYDERABAD: There appears to be no respite for women who continue to suffer different forms of violence and run from pillar to post to bring their tormentors, usually their husbands, to justice as the world observes the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women on Friday.
Hyderabad`s teenaged Hameeda Rustamani is one such victim. She lives in Makrani Para and wants to get rid of her husband Mukhtiar Zardari who is 45 year old and already married before her.
He had married her only to get a son and when Hameeda could not conceive over three years he married again.
“I just want to protect myself from his evil doings and I can`t live with this man who often forces me to have illicit relations with his friends and colleagues,” Hameeda told Dawn while narrating her ordeal to Syeda Quratul Ain Shah, in-charge of Complaint Centre set up by the Ministry of Women Development.
She has started visiting the centre to seek help as she is uneducated and poor. It is mainly poverty that has landed her in this trouble.
“Hameeda`s father died years ago and my maternal aunt married her to Mukhtiar without consulting us. He is too much older than her while she is just a child,” said Essa Baloch, her cousin.
“Hameeda`s mother was deceived by Mukhtiar who helped her when she was in a hospital. Mukhtiar had an eye on her since then,” Essa recalled.
According to Hameeda, her husband has five daughters from his first wife who are of her age. “He subjects me to physical abuse at will,” she said.
Quratul Ain said that Hameeda had told her that Mukhtiar use to take her to different midwives to cure her infertility. “Her husband just needs a son and nothing else,” she said.
For Quranul Ain it is no news that Hameeda`s husband tried to force her into prostitution. “Many women make similar complaints that when they resist their husbands they are tortured,” she said.
She is also helping one Ms Humera who is fighting a legal battle with one Ali Rana who has refused to recognise Humera as his wife.
Humera has delivered a baby girl and she insists Â“its Ali`s child but he is now denying I am his wife. I am ready to go for DNA test. Ali had twice forced me to have abortion”.
Ali Rana rejects her claims while speaking to Quratul Ain. He did not attend her cell phone. Rana has moved Family Court against Humera accusing her of false nikkahnama.
But Humera`s counsel Bhagwandas said he would file an application to get DNA test done. “I spoke to the doctor who performed Humera`s abortion twice. When Humera became pregnant for the third time the doctor refused to do her abortion saying she won`t be able to bear children if she did it the third time,” he said.
The United Nations defines violence against women as an act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty whether occurring in public or in private life.
According to Saleha Ramay, coordinator of Zeest Programme launched by Islamabad-based NGO Rozan, state would have to consider cases of domestic violence as a crime against the state.
“It`s not poverty alone that leads to such cases. We live in a patriarchal society and men have the sole decision making power. A woman is supposed to compromise with circumstances and accept them as her destiny,” Saleha noted.
“Poverty does aggravate such cases,” she said and added that when a woman decides to go for separation she again has to depend on her family. “In our society dispensation of justice is a big issue for such women in distress,” she said.
A bill on Domestic Violence and Women and Children was tabled in Sindh Assembly by MPA Humera Alwani in 2006 but it was not adopted.
She again tabled it in August 2008 and since then it has not seen the light of the day although the MPA is assured by custodian of the house that it will be taken up soon.
“Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro told me that my bill is being vetted by the law ministry,” she said.
She said that it was an important bill that defined different forms of violence, including forced abortion, emotional coercion for something, physical abuse, harassment etc.
The bill calls for formation of committees at union council and taluka level comprising notables and police to probe any complaint of domestic violence, she said.
“After the passage of the 18th Amendment this bill can be tabled in a provincial assembly besides National Assembly where a similar bill was adopted in 2009 after being tabled by Yasmin Rehman,” she said.
As the law ministry sits on the MPA`s bill, both Humera and Hameeda are determined to fight it out on their own. Humera is contesting the suit but Hameeda has not yet received legal assistance.