Victim denies allegation, says she was framed for being infertile.
HARIPUR: Sitting in the ENT ward of a hospital in Haripur, a woman recalls her once comfortable marriage and her inability to produce children — the events that led to her disfigured face.
Her husband chopped off her nose after accusing her of having an illicit relationship, all in the name of ‘saving face’.
With the case of the Haripur ‘sexually abused’ victim still fresh in the public memory the harrowing story of Ansar Bibi, 35, adds to the 44 cases of violence against women in Haripur this year alone.
“He should have ended my life, rather than leaving me to live with the stigma of being a woman of bad character,” Ansar Bibi told The Express Tribune from the District Headquarters Hospital Haripur on Wednesday.
The motive behind the centuries-old vicious tradition of disfigurement is hardly different from scores of other cases of violence against women accused of having relations outside their marriage.
However, according to the victim, she was framed by her husband as she was unable to provide him any children and the accusations of having an affair out of wedlock was only a faÃ§ade.
Ansar Bibi recalled that she and her husband Muhammad Riaz, a truck driver, were married about 20 years ago, after which he transferred the rights of ownership of one kanal of agriculture land and a house in her name as dowry.
“We lived a comfortable life but over time he started being spiteful towards me because I was infertile and his family constantly pressed him to get remarried so he could have a son as his legal heir,” she said.
With time, she added, Riaz’s behaviour became increasingly harsh, leaving her black and blue, time and again, without any reason. Then, about a year back, he went missing, only to return after six months with a new wife.
“He did not get permission for the polygamy which is mandatory under Sharia and family laws,” Ansar Bibi said. From then on, she felt that living with Riaz was not easy and decided to file for divorce and at a local family court.
However, she said that some jirga members intervened and persuaded her to withdraw the lawsuit assuring her that Riaz would treat her equally.
Ansar Bibi said that instead of getting justice, Riaz reacted by trying to “get rid of her”. He deprived her of all entitlements of dowry and began defaming her by calling her some of “ill-character”.
One night, she said, Riaz locked her up in a room with his cousin Ashiq Hussain, who was a frequent visitor at their house, and made it look as though the two were involved in an illicit relationship.
The next morning, Riaz chopped off Ansar Bibi’s nose with a knife and handed himself over to the police. His relatives— Khalid and Sakhawat — abetted him in the attack, she alleged.
While recording his statement, Riaz said that Ashiq was in his wife’s room and his act was “punishment” for her immodesty.
“If Ashiq was in my room why was he not killed or hurt,” she questioned.
Ansar Bibi now waits for financial assistance as her father, who is handicapped and on bed-rest for many years, cannot afford the treatment.
“They should kill me if they cannot restore my dignity,” she said.
Statistics of violence against women
According to statistics collected by Human Development Organization, a Hazara-based civil society organization, 44 cases of violence against women were reported from the five districts of Hazara between January and May this year.
Out of the total, 14 women were murdered, five were killed for ‘honor’, five were kidnapped, seven committed suicide under unexplained circumstances, one lost her nose, while 12 were cases of domestic violence.
According to a report by the Aurat Foundation, over 8, 000 cases of violence against women were reported from across the country in 2010. These statistics include 2,236 cases of kidnappings of women, 1,436 cases of murder, 486 domestic violence cases, 633 suicide cases, 557 honor killings, 928 rapes, 74 sexually assaults, 32 acid attacks and 38 cases were of burn injuries, while 1,580 cases were filed under ‘miscellaneous’.
Source: The Express Tribune